Star Trek: First Contact

3.5 stars

Theatrical release: 11/22/1996
PG-13; 1 hr. 51 min.
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Ronald D. Moore
Screenplay by Brannon Braga & Ronald D. Moore
Produced by Rick Berman
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Someone once said, 'Don't try to be a great man, just be a man, and let history make its own judgments'."
"That's rhetorical nonsense. Who said that?"
"You did... ten years from now."

— William Riker and Zefram Cochrane

December 11, 1996

Nutshell: Very good stuff. Probably the best of all Trek films, with an involving story and a skillful, even-handed approach.

Star Trek: First Contact is one of the best Star Trek films — probably the best Trek film — definitely the most even-handed. It successfully balances just about every element I believe a good Trek film should have — superior production and special effects, plenty of humor and fun, involving conflicts and problems that must be overcome, and a compelling story with human themes and values consistent with Gene Roddenberry's optimistic vision. All of it is wrapped into a very neat package of plotting and pacing. It's good Star Trek, and it's good cinema.

As an added bonus, First Contact brings back the Borg, perhaps the most interesting and menacing race of villains in the history of Trek. Ever since their introduction in TNG's second season episode "Q Who," the Borg have been the most compelling threat to the Federation. In that episode, they were simply hungry for any technology that was different and new. Negotiation was not a factor; they wanted your stuff, they were without a doubt bigger and stronger, their hive-like collective was overwhelming, and if you resisted them, they would destroy you.

A little more than a year later in "The Best of Both Worlds," the writers clarified another element of the Borg that made them even more terrifying — the fact that they wanted not only your technology but also you — they wanted to turn you into a mindless drone, to strip you of your individuality and add you to their single-minded collective. Unlike the relatively boring and simple-minded aliens of Independence Day, who simply wanted to destroy everyone and everything in their path, the Borg instead threaten you with a fate worse than death: Their goal is to absorb people and technology and forcibly make you one of them, so that you will become one in their hive of conquerors.

That Borg ship was destroyed, but not before they assimilated Captain Picard into their collective and stripped him of his individuality, which was only regained after the cunning intervention of the Enterprise crew. Now the Borg have returned, and they're again bent on doing whatever it takes to assimilate Earth.

First Contact opens with a powerful and magnificent-looking shot — part of a flashback dream sequence that begins as an extreme close-up of Captain Picard's eyeball, and then tracks back to reveal Picard standing in a Borg module on a Borg ship. The camera continues to track backward for what seems like miles, showing what must be millions of Borg drones on the massive vessel collective — of which Picard has forcibly become part of. Picard suddenly awakens in his ready room aboard the new Sovereign-class Enterprise-E, which, we learn, has been in service for nearly a year now.

A message comes through from Starfleet Command. The Borg have been identified in Federation space, and they're on a direct course for Earth; and as Picard states, this time there may be no stopping them. Further, Starfleet orders Picard away from the battle — they fear his past assimilation by the Borg may instigate an unstable element to an already-volatile situation.

Well, no points for guessing that once the Borg start pounding on the Starfleet ships and the losses start rolling in Picard takes it upon himself to violate direct orders and engage the Enterprise in battle. What's surprising here is the speed with which the film launches itself. Unlike in Generations two years ago, little time is wasted here on old jokes or the reintroduction of the TNG cast (a nature of the film that keeps the plot taut and should actually increase accessibility for non-Trekkers). Within ten minutes of the opening credits, the Enterprise is in the heat of battle with the immense Borg cube — as is the Defiant, commanded by Worf, apparently ordered to the battlefield as part of a reinforcement effort.

I must say, seeing a Trek battle of this magnitude on the big screen — especially with that huge Borg ship — is a sight that probably alone is worth the price of admission. It looks great. Particularly attractive are the organic motions of the Defiant, which flies around the screen with such graceful, eye-pleasing movements that it makes war look almost like choreography.

Perhaps one negative aspect about the initial battle with the Borg is that it ends a little too abruptly and easily. As Starfleet's resident expert on the Borg and their weaknesses, Picard orders the fleet to concentrate their fire on a specific point, which destroys the Borg cube in a nifty pyrotechnic display. But this victory transpires a little more easily than it really should have — especially considering Picard's aforementioned notion that "this time there may be no stopping them." By beating the Borg in five minutes under only partially explained circumstances, the threat feels a little less real than I hoped it would have, not up to the level of the Borg assault on Earth back in "Best of Both Worlds."

But there's a flip side to this coin. Like I said, First Contact wastes very little time — the pace of the movie is pretty fast, and once the Borg cube is destroyed and the damaged Defiant crew is beamed aboard the Enterprise, the main plot takes off. You see, just before it explodes, the Borg cube launches a smaller sphere which creates a "temporal matrix" that allows it to travel back to the latter half of 21st century. While in pursuit, the Enterprise is caught in a temporal wake, and upon realizing that the Borg intend to change history by assimilating Earth in the past, Picard decides he must follow the Borg back and prevent such an occurrence.

Okay, so it's Yet Another Time Travel Plot. Time travel can be dangerous territory in terms of plausibility, because it sets up the possibility of the all-encompassing Time Paradox. Fortunately, the film steers clear of most of the technobabble and confusion, and wisely delves into its story. Still, time travel has been done on Trek so many times (Star Trek IV, Generations, and numerous episodes of TOS, TNG, DS9, and Voyager), sometimes without success. There are a few things about First Contact's logic of time travel that annoy me, like, for example, how time suddenly became something that the Borg could manipulate at will, and how the Enterprise reconfigures the time matrix at the end of the film to get back to their time period. Such complaints are minor, however — the importance here is the story once the movie goes into the past, which easily makes the ends justify the means.

The Borg and the Enterprise arrive at Earth, April 4, 2063 — shortly after the widespread destruction of World War III that leaves the planet particularly susceptible to an invasion; but, more importantly, as the crew quickly notes, this date is the day before the historic "first contact" between humans and intelligence beyond the solar system, which is supposed to take place when Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell), the Montana-based inventor of warp drive among humans, takes a test flight in his revolutionary space craft, to the interest of some extra-terrestrials who are passing near Earth's star system.

The Borg want to prevent first contact and assimilate humanity, but the Enterprise intervenes and destroys the Borg sphere. Before the loss of their ship, however, the Borg are able to beam a small invasion party aboard the Enterprise, and begin assimilating the ship and its crew like a cancer from the inside.

From here, the story divides into three narratives. One involves Picard, Worf, and the Enterprise crew's efforts to contain the Borg from taking over the ship. A second centers around Data, who is kidnapped by the Borg during a confrontation and taken to the lower decks they control where they attempt to assimilate him into their collective under the command of an element new to Borg milieu — the Borg Queen (Alice Krige), a single entity who represents the mind behind a massive collective of drones. A third follows Riker, Geordi, and Deanna's attempts to see to it Cochrane's warp flight goes through as history plans.

The type of movement between different plot lines exercised in First Contact is nothing unfamiliar to Trekkian story structure, but under Frakes' tempered direction, the plot holds together just fine and scenes work. Most importantly, the plot proves consistently interesting and the story remains involving. The key to the film is its big picture — the way it works all of its elements into a coherent, cohesive whole in which each development manages to be something both entertaining and relevant.

Picard's fight for the Enterprise takes an understandable and sturdy character-driven turn — that of vengeance. The motif begins subtly; such lines as Picard's order, "Don't hesitate to fire on crew members who have been assimilated," make sense in their context, but also add to the bigger agenda — that of Picard and his hatred of the Borg for what they do to any who stand in their path, and — more specifically — what they did to him six years ago. The vengeance factor present here is deftly executed, thanks in part to another of Patrick Stewart's convincing performances. But another important aspect here is in the screenplay's ability to make points about this theme. For this purpose the writers have a character named Lily Sloane (Alfre Woodard), Cochrane's 21st century assistant who winds up lost in the bowels of the Enterprise after a series of events. Sloane is smart, and she makes some keen observations about Picard's situation, at one point drawing a very pointed comparison between Picard and Captain Ahab of Moby Dick. Woodard's energy is very commendable; she and Stewart work well together in a host of scenes of varying depth.

It's clear that Picard allows his anger to cloud his judgment, particularly when he refuses to arm the Enterprise's self-destruct sequence and orders the futile fight for control of his ship to continue. This throws him into conflict with Worf in a charged scene filled with fiery words. Conflict is tough to do amongst the TNG cast, but the filmmakers pull it off here by making Picard decidedly wrong and, further, insulting Worf for trying to set him right. Based on TNG's history between Worf and Picard, Worf's very Klingon response to Picard's insults seems sincere: "If you were any other man, I would kill you where you stand." Pretty startling. (If the later scene where the two make up seems a tad easy, remind yourself that this is the TNG cast we're talking about.)

The entire revenge theme speaks for itself much of the time, and it's a credit to the writers that the film looks at the situation from so many perspectives. In one way it's easy for us as the audience to hate the Borg and the relentless strive toward oneness and mass consumption they represent (especially those of us who so vividly remember Picard's experience in "The Best of Both Worlds"). On the other hand, many of the Borg now trying to alter history used to be members of the Enterprise crew, and it's unsettling to watch Picard barely bat an eye after damn near enjoying gunning down a Borg (in an elaborate holodeck sequence) who used to be one of his own ensigns. Of the themes in First Contact, this is the heaviest and most complex, and the writers give it the analysis it deserves.

As Picard and the crew attempt to quash the Borg cancer, Data finds himself in the position Picard was six years ago — on the Borg "operating table," where they attempt to turn him into one of them. For some reason, the Borg take a particular interest in Data; they see him as the key to the human puzzle that has defeated them once already. There are a host of intriguing exchanges between Data and the Borg Queen, with some dialog that's really on the mark. Data's quest for humanity has always been something pervasive on TNG, but here the dialog reveals another purpose — it underlines the evil in Borg oneness. Whereas Data's quest is a search for his own human individuality, the Borg simply conquer and force their way of life on others, in their effort to become a more "perfect" network of drones. And as Data so rightly points out to the Borg Queen, "to think of oneself as perfect is often the feat of a delusional mind." The Queen has some retorts of her own, and knows that Data's quest for human feelings is his weakness and goes so far as to tempt him closer to the Borg collective with human flesh, grafting it onto his circuitry for true skin sensations. It's a witty and ironic approach by the script, that the key to the Borg's removal of humanity from humans would be in giving Data more distinctly human characteristics.

The Borg Queen turns out to be one of the film's most interesting characters, partly in the way the filmmakers realize her — both physically and mentally — but also because of Krige's skillful rendition of a calm, seductive personality who aims to simultaneously consume and create Data anew, as well as humanity along with him. (A particularly nice display of the Queen's sense of superior tranquillity comes when Data attempts to escape but freezes in pain when cut on his newfound flesh by Borg drones. The Queen simply waves her hands and the drones disperse in random directions, like a group of mindless insects. A very neat touch.) Michael Westmore's makeup designs for the Queen, as well as the rest of the Borg, are great — slick, creative, interesting to the eye, and very, well, Borg.

Noteworthy in the Data/Queen scenes are Data's emotional responses of fear and subdued anger — appropriately utilized rather than released to run amok like in Generations. (This makes sense, since Data would have learned much about controlling his feelings since that time.)

As the Enterprise copes with its problems, the script also supplies a lighter story as Riker and Geordi attempt to convince Zefram Cochrane that he's really a key figure in the future and that humanity is within a day of being forever changed for the better. While the Borg-centered angle of the story supplies issues of individuality and survival, this part of the story is the true, Trekkian "heart" of the film. It deals with humanity and how it views itself in the prospect of change. Riker's explanations to Cochrane about how much the world will change after first contact is one of the many highlights of the film. And, besides, the character interaction in this story is just plain infectious. Cromwell, in particular, turns out to be an amiable presence, with a lighthearted performance containing much grace and humor — I liked Zefram Cochrane a lot. (I honestly don't remember the Cochrane character that appeared in TOS, but I don't care, either.)

I could fully understand why Cochrane would be overwhelmed learning that he's to be labeled a historic visionary. And I got a kick out of the whole bit with the statue that Geordi explains, and the idea that the savior of the future is merely a guy who wants to get drunk and make enough money to retire to an island of naked women. (For that matter, I was amused at the notion of Cochrane getting Deanna tipsy, agreeing to talk to her only after "three shots of something called tequila.")

In a key passage, Cochrane explains to Riker that his motives were hardly visionary — that he is not and does not want to be the "great man" that everyone in the future knows him to be. Riker has a response:

Riker: "Someone once said, don't be a great man, just be a man, and let history make its own judgments."
Cochrane: "That's rhetorical nonsense. Who said that?"
Riker: "You did, ten years from now."

It's dialog like this that defines the Star Trek universe. It's reassuring that at least some cinematic version of the future has imagination and hope for humanity and still has the prudence not to always take itself so seriously.

As much that takes place in First Contact (and as haphazardly as I've probably summarized it here), it's a credit to screenwriters Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore that they manage to tie everything into a sensible, efficient whole. They also manage to spread the material around all the main TNG characters — much better than in Generations. While obviously Picard, Data, and the guest characters get much of the material, given the size of the cast it's nice to see that everyone gets into the action one way or another.

And the plot's action provides some fresh and creative technical feats. The most impressive set-piece is a neat zero gravity situation on the hull of the ship, where Picard, Worf, and Lt. Hawk (Neal McDonough, who unfortunately is provided little purpose in the film except to be the token "dead meat" character) attempt to thwart the Borg's attempt to build a beacon on the deflector dish. The special effects are convincing, to say the least, and the entire episode is played out in a sort of slow-motion. In a word, this is clever.

There's also the aforementioned Dixon Hill holodeck scene that Picard and Sloane venture into to elude some Borg pursuers. The idea takes time out from the standard chase to nearly transform into a movie with a life of its own, complete with all the typical characters. (I particularly got a good laugh out of the "Nicky the Nose" gag — one of the most subtly amusing notions in the film.)

Naturally, there are the obligatory cameos — Robert Picardo as the EMH, Ethan Phillips as a holodeck character, and Dwight Schultz recapping his character Barclay at his most Barclayness — in the context of the film though, they fit, particularly the moment when Barclay so enthusiastically meets Cochrane, which underlines Cochrane's whole annoyance with being constantly identified as a historical figure.

Nearing the end, the film brings the three plot lines together, with the launch of Cochrane's warp rocket, the evacuation of the Enterprise (which Picard finally comes to terms with losing and puts on a countdown to auto-destruct), and the Queen's revelation to Picard that she has found an "equal" to her in Data, who she is convinced is completely under her control. She orders him to destroy Cochrane's warp ship with the Enterprise's torpedoes. The most cheer-worthy moment of the movie, at least for me, came when Data turned "Resistance is futile" around on the Queen, much to her horror and disbelief. In one line, Data shows his ability to keep his loyalty to humanity, surprising an arrogant creature and bringing the entire Borg collective down with her. Nice job — it had me cheering.

After the Queen's demise, I still had some questions that left me a tad perplexed, like, for instance, how exactly the Queen was on the Borg ship in "Best of Both Worlds" that was destroyed. Seeing her again causes memories to resurface in Picard — he remembers the Queen as the master behind his own attempted assimilation. The Queen's retort that his feeble human mind is too limited to understand was mysterious but unrevealing. Perhaps my primitive three-dimensional mind isn't supposed to understand it, either. Too bad; I would've appreciated understanding the Queen's history a little better. As a symbol of oneness she works great, but the specifics are a tad overly vague.

As compensation, the film allows us to witness first contact between the humans and the Vulcans. Without going too much into detail, I'll just say that the sequence is a poignant, effective payoff, and a great way to end the movie. I think it's the best scene in the entire film and one of the better moments in Trek's history, with a genuine sense of wonder and amazement and a real epic feel (and Jerry Goldsmith's theme is top-notch). It lays down some of the background of the Federation, which I've always wondered about, and it reveals that Star Trek cares not just where it's going, but also where it came from. As a Trekker so close to the series, I was moved. (Don't begin to ask me how a non-Trekker would react, though — I wouldn't know.)

First Contact is not really the action-packed "Borg movie" the trailers want to suggest. It's got action and adventure, sure. But it's really about assembling a sci-fi plot to entertain in thoughtful ways, using the resources and history of the seemingly-immortal concept of Trek itself. If this film is an indication of where the franchise intends to go, I'll gladly be aboard for the next ride.

Previous: Star Trek: Generations
Next: Star Trek: Insurrection

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135 comments on this review

Dan
Tue, Jan 22, 2008, 3:33am (UTC -5)
Awesome movie. One question though, if it is probably the best Trek movie why only 3.5 stars and not a 4 equal to STII-WOK?
Jammer
Tue, Jan 22, 2008, 8:57am (UTC -5)
Simple: I said "probably." :) By the time I got around to reviewing ST2, I'd decided ST2 is indeed the best ST film. So, for the record, I do put ST2 above STFC (despite what I said here), so I stand by both star ratings.
JO´H
Sat, Feb 16, 2008, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
This gets back to the shortfalls of a four star rating system. Jammer, would you consider re-reviewing you whole database of Trek reviews to better distinguish beteer the great and the good?
JO´H
Sat, Feb 16, 2008, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
e.g 5 stars instead?
Jammer
Sat, Feb 16, 2008, 3:06pm (UTC -5)
The rating system is what it is. It isn't perfect, but I'm okay with that. There's really no purpose in me going back to revise ratings en masse. It do what it do.

I've never believed in the 5-star system. It's 4.
Jake
Sat, Mar 22, 2008, 8:59am (UTC -5)
I agree with the consensus that this came the closest of the 4 TNG films to do TNG justice. However, what keeps it from attaining classic status in my book is the unnecessary addition of Lily's character(with respect to Alfre Woodard, who's a fine actress). It should've been Beverly who talked sense into Jean-Luc and convince him to destroy the Enterprise.
Nick
Mon, Jun 9, 2008, 10:59am (UTC -5)
If you look at the ten movies as part of the same series and continuum than I believe Wrath of Khan is the best film. However, if we're judging them on individual merit First Contact is the by far the best in my mind. Under another category of "Best Science Fiction" I think First Contact again is superior; its high concept villain, tight plot, and superb acting put it in a class by itself. But... it doesn't have Kirk's voice crack while giving Spock's eulogy.
Dan
Mon, Jul 14, 2008, 9:09am (UTC -5)
Anyway....
I agree that ST 2 is the best of the Trek Films. This certainly runs it close though.
Dan
Tue, Jul 22, 2008, 5:17am (UTC -5)
It's also interesting to note that the two best Trek Films actually had links to episodes from the series rather than being stand alone ideas.
rob
Thu, Jul 31, 2008, 8:26pm (UTC -5)
Just watched this movie again for the second time. Wanted to like it, but maybe it wasn’t a good idea to watch it again after so many years.

Where the tv series finale for TNG was suspenseful, dramatic, surprising, and involving - by comparison, this movie felt contrived, unbelievable, sometimes out of character, and I’m sorry to say, was painful to watch at times.

Wrath of Khan holds up far far better, imo.
Tim Carroll
Fri, Aug 29, 2008, 9:29pm (UTC -5)
People often point to Voyager as the beginning of the end for the Borg as credible villains, but I've always felt it was this movie that turned the Borg from a genuinely menacing threat into something far less interesting. All Voyager did was run with the concept originally created here. Only problem was, it was never a good idea to begin with.

In fact, the Borg Queen was the Worst. Idea. Ever. The reason the Borg were so uniquely frightening to begin with was that there were *no* leaders of the Collective. It just existed, mindlessly carrying out its endless quest to reach perfection. They were the ultimate Trek Evil Computer(TM) villain.

The Borg Queen ruined all that. Suddenly, the Borg had an individual leader who made independent decisions and had emotions and all that jazz, and ALL that mystique went POOF and was never regained.

Voyager's "Scorpion" was the last time the Borg felt scary. It's also the last time we had a Borg Special (TM) without the fucking Queen. Coincidence? I think not...
OldTrekker
Wed, Dec 31, 2008, 1:47pm (UTC -5)
Nice Review. I too thought this was right up there with Wrath of Khan. And yes, the Borg Queen kind of detracts from the whole soul-less, emotionless, hive mind concept, but I think it was a necessary vehicle to make them more accessible to the non-trek audience. Plus, I think that to come up with a creative, non-contrived, plot development to defeat them might have taken a lot more screen time and slowed the pace of the film.

My other comment has to do with the wonderful use of the final scene in First Contact as a starting point for the "Evil Earth Empire" in the "Mirror Universe" episode of ST: Enterprise. In my opinion, one of the handful of "keeper" episodes in that otherwise ill-conceived ST spinoff.
EP
Thu, Mar 12, 2009, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
I completely agree with Tim Carroll.

The Borg Queen, decked out in her H.R. Geiger gear, is scary in a horror-movie sort of way. Like Jason or Freddy Kreuger. And her "seduction" of Data is intellectually intriguing.
Unfortunately, she ultimately neuters the Borg concept and makes them about a weird sort of bitch-goddess revenge, to come full-cycle on VOY.

The film is slickly produced, though. When the Enterprise swoops in to protect the Defiant I can't help but shed a manly tear. I can only imagine what some of the older films could look like with access to modern effects. I've harbored a dark fantasy where I get put in charge of re-mastering the Battle in the Mutara Nebula in Khan.
TB
Sat, Apr 25, 2009, 10:50pm (UTC -5)
Agreeing with Time and EP. Along those same lines, they threw away much of the Star Trek canon regarding the Borg in this movie. Picard tells the fleet to fire on an unimportant part of the cube. One of the great mysteries of the Borg was that there were no identifiable parts of their ships. Everything was equal and redundant. The same with giving them adaptable shielding. In Best of Both Worlds, they found a solution to that problem. Now that solution is forgotten in order to make the Borg more dangerous.
BLP
Thu, May 7, 2009, 9:40pm (UTC -5)
I can't understand the motivation of Zefram Cochrane, in building a warp ship. It's evident that he has never been in space before, so why was there a need to build a warp ship if he had no destination in mind that required that speed? The only reason to have warp capability is to explore the outer reaches of his solar system, and perhaps the galaxy. Inventions and innovation is needed to solve a problem and there didn't seem to be any need of warp capability.
Nicolás Lichtmaier
Sun, May 10, 2009, 4:58pm (UTC -5)
Hehe, you reproduce what the characters assumed about the person that would create the warp engine. Of courssss, it must have been done by an altruistic man wanting to boldly go where no man has gone before. But instead, it was really created by a man who only expected profit. He wanted to get rich with his invention. But this is the same man what would eventually become wiser and more "altruistic". So what this character is really showing is how mankind is supposed to have gone from being assholes to XXIV century gentlemen =).

And this is part of why this movie is still much better than the new J.J. Abrams' Star Trek.
Sarah
Thu, Jul 23, 2009, 1:52am (UTC -5)
I'm working my way back through all the Star Trek movies now that I've seen the new one (this is a great one, btw). But I found the commentary track by Moore and Braga particularly interesting.

Toward the end (with the hind-sight of 'Enterprise' and the latter 'Voyager' years informing their commentary): "All this continuity is a blessing and a curse." "Yeah, Star Trek's getting kind of too familiar and tired." "Yeah, maybe it needs a reboot." "Yeah, it probably does."

It's kind of shame Abrams didn't shop script-writing duties out of the pair of them, actually. Much as I enjoyed the new movie, script coherency wasn't it's strong point and these guys did a lion's share of the best writing in modern Trek. Moore's moved onto other things, granted, and Braga (whether you hate him or not, I think he gets blamed for a lot of things that weren't his fault) will probably not work on a Star Trek project again.

It's a shame they no longer write together, though. I think they brought out the best in each other and tempered each other's excesses.
John Pate
Sun, Dec 6, 2009, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
The Borg Queen issue isn't really, here's how. We posit the Borg Queen is the single attention point of the collective consciousness of the Borg - she is the ego of the Borg. Embodying herself in a particular place then, is purely situational. And if that particular body - which is really simply a waldo - gets destroyed, it doesn't destroy the Borg Queen because she is the Borg and you can't kill them all.
AJH
Wed, Jan 20, 2010, 10:49am (UTC -5)
Disagree completely with others about this film.
The great Borg film was the first part of Best of Both Worlds.
ST:First Contact pales by comparison.

And the reason ? Pacing, editing and drama.
Director Frakes and his editor have no idea.

Three things that destroy this movie.
1. Weightless scene in space. Slow, slow, slow. Both the movement and the plotline slow down to impulse power. It's a slowly editied and boring scene, it's not Trek, it lasts 'Forever !' it's not logical and it looks fake.
2. When Cochrane's warp rocket has taken off and is just about to go to warp, everything slooooows dowwwwn. Prepare for warp - look out the window - see the enterprise - torpedoes fired - torpedoes in the water - torpedoes still in the water - still in the water - torpedoes missing - Data defects...etc etc etc...THIS TAKES FOREVER.
Go to warp already !
Was George Lucas editing this film. It should have been quick and snappy action, not slow and treacly.
3. How long is the Vulcan First Contact scene.
It must take 10 minutes.
Slow motion landing. Slow motion walking. Slow motion First Contact.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

This is not the great film everyone thinks it is.
Just like Michael Bay's Armegeddon, it travels at breakneck speed when it should breath and then slows down when it should be snappy.

2 1/2 out of 4
Destructor
Thu, Jan 21, 2010, 9:34pm (UTC -5)
Saw this last night and agreed with my friends' comment: "This is better than all of the Star Wars prequels combined."

Was initially somewhat disappointed when I saw it theatrically but watching it now in context it really is a lovely, solid film.
David
Tue, Mar 9, 2010, 8:32am (UTC -5)
IMO, the best of the Next Generation movies -- and I'm not really a fan of the Next Generation. It was downhill from here.
Paul
Mon, Jun 14, 2010, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
How did the Phoenix land?
Tim
Fri, Jun 25, 2010, 12:56pm (UTC -5)
I do think this is a great film. But I agree this film is what started the “dumbing down of the Borg” (and Voyager just grabbed that baton and went with it). I mean, the Borg accept defeat rather easily. They send one ship to assimilate Earth and it gets destroyed (but not before wiping out a good percentage of Starfleet ships and personnel). You’d think they would have said, “You know…we almost got them that time. Let’s try again and send five or ten cubes. We’ll defeat them for sure then!”. Or the time travel idea. Which is brilliant and simple. Yet they never tried it again. Of course, just don’t do in full view of all of Starfleet where a ship can follow you backwards in time and you’ll be golden. And finally…The Borg have assimilated some 10,000 species, right? You’d think at least one of them would have had a cloaking device to make battle that much more efficient. =)
Luis Dias
Sun, Jul 4, 2010, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
How can you like this piece of crap of a movie?!?

Go see RedLetterMedia's review of it, he just blows it off like the shit it is. Good grief, I was about to take you guys seriously, but then 3 stars and a half to this monstruosity?!? You lost it.
David
Tue, Aug 17, 2010, 10:27pm (UTC -5)
RedLetterMedia's reviews would be better if the guy abandoned his dumb "crazy misogynist basement stalker character" and silly voice and just focused on actual critiques of the film. They add nothing in humor other than make the creator look like a sad, disturbed human being and make sitting through...every....sentence....in...the...video a slog.
Jeff O'Connor
Thu, Oct 21, 2010, 1:32am (UTC -5)
RLM's an annoying, pretentious, pseudo-misogynistic hack. I've watched several of his reviews and I can't stand his stage persona. Annoying, trite and self-indulgent barely begin to describe his so-called theatrics.

As a preemptive measure, should he happen to swing by here and attempt to stun me with a response, it won't have any effect. This is the internet. It doesn't take much to type a few words.

Maybe he's a decent guy when he isn't doing his reviews, but too much of his points get neutered by his desire to run unfunny jokes longer than he spends actually analyzing things. At least, in the reviews I've checked out.

I'm aware of his stance on "First Contact", but I just rewatched it for the first time in a long time (Blu-Ray, baby; god, the film looked like it just came out yesterday!) and it's a fairly terrific movie. Some of the Borg Queen lines are over-the-top, some of the earlier scenes are a little too 'horror' for my tastes... but apart from these quibbles, it's a good film for non-Trekkies and a great one for the rest of us.

The pacing being problematic is a complaint I disagree with. Of course the space walk scene is slow. It's SPACE. And the official First Contact scene clocking in at ten minutes? Try closer to five, and it never felt like it dragged to me. AJH and I clearly just have far separate interpretations on... time.

The producers really brought their A-game to this compared to the other TNG films, and it's bittersweet knowing that "Insurrection" and "Nemesis" don't come close. I don't hate either one like some do, but they're not this good. Not by a long shot.

I'm not planning on doing reviews for the films, but I'd give this one a heartfelt ***1/2, too, Jammer.
Luis Dias
Wed, Dec 29, 2010, 5:24am (UTC -5)
Well, regarding RLM, I think it boils down to taste. And since our tastes differ so much regarding this movie, it doesn't surprise me that we also disagree on RLM. His persona is funny and is intentionally over the top. In his star wars reviews, he even gathers some women slaves, the lines are ridiculous.

About the movie, it is quite clear why it completely sucks.

First of all, the characters are all off base. Completely contradicting the personas they did on the series. The plot is full of holes, shenanigans and outright silliness. Why does the queen travel through time only after she arrives Earth and gets her cube destroyed? Silly strategy. Why her sudden obsession with data? Completely vacuous. Why should data approve the trade? Such a dumb idea: why not help the queen destroy entire mankind so that he can be all human by himself (and all alone)? It's not even a dillema, it's just stupid. Why is Riker always smiling like a jackass? Why is the crew behaving so much like teenager trekkies down earth, and not like actual crew members of starfleet?

But I simply disconnected in the first scenes. The Enterprise, actually built to kick borg's backside, is denied permission to help the fleet 'coz Picard "may have psych issues". Then he decides just to ignore federation (again?!) and gets there in less than 10 seconds. With that start I was like "Ok this is gonna be worse than generations". And then with fleet ships being destroyed in the front screen, somehow they have to save defiant's crew. I guess all the other crews will enjoy that (specially considering that the defiant wasn't destroyed at all!!), oh no they won't coz they got borged ;).

Just ridiculous. The holodeck scene was bad, suddenly we realise that Picard doesn't care about his ensigns being borg, he just shoots them, and it's like a bad Aliens' homage.

And why oh why did Data pretend to shoot in the end? Why not just jump towards the queen and kick her ass? The script is completely bogus and it shows.
lytnin123
Sat, Mar 12, 2011, 10:51pm (UTC -5)
Guess I'm a die-hard fan. I love to suspend disbelief and go along with the fantasy. The characters are the key. Data's dilemma and eventual deception of the admittedly illogically existent queen was unexpected and heroic. Picard's vengeance was long overdue. To answer why Lily was in the film, a crew member would have been insubordinate and relieved and/or demoted to argue further with Picard; Lily could challenge him, and she brought him back to do what he had to do. I have only one remaining question: Does this film END the Borg in the future? Does the destruction of the queen mean that it went back in time and was destroyed and all future Borg battles were "erased?" Insurrection and Nemesis ignore the Borg - ???
Matthew
Sat, Apr 23, 2011, 2:25pm (UTC -5)
I see this time you've been blinded by popular opinion Jammer. Allow to carefully explain exactly why this film is awful and point out yet more holes your FAILED to mention.
1) THE STORY AND CHARACTERS ARE NOT BIG ENOUGH FOR A FILM! This thing belongs on TELEVISION, or better yet IN THE DUMPSTER!!!!!!!!
2)WHY DO WE HAVE A TWO STUPID DREAM SEQUENCES AT THE BEGINNING?????!!!!!! WHY?????????????!!!!!!!
3) WHY ARE THE BORG MORE DANGEROUS THIS TIME AROUND??????? THEY SEND ONE CUBE WHICH IS QUICKLY AND EASILY DISPATCHED, more so that the one in "The Best of Both Worlds"
4) WHY DID THEY SAY PICARD HAD TO STAY BEHIND? WHY? IT WAS JUST GRATUITOUS!!!!!!!! IT MADE NO DIFFERENCE TO THE FILM!!!!!
5) IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN DS9, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO KNOW WHY WORF WAS ON THE DEFIANT OR EVEN WHAT IT WAS!!!! THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A FILM FOR EVERYONE, NOT JUST FANS!!!!!!!!!!
6) WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THE PHEONIX IS OR FIRST CONTACT WHEN THE CHARACTERS FIRST DISCUSS IT!!!!! IT MAKES NO SENSE
7) THE ENTIRE FILM IS JUST SHOOTING AT BORG OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER!!!!!!!!!! IT'S BORING!!!!!!!
8) THE BORG QUEEN WAS SO, SO, SO STUPID!!!!!!!!!! I don't really want to go into full details about it, BUT SHE WAS NOT A BORG AND RUINED THE BORG ALTOGETHER!!!!!!!!!! "You think in such three dimensional terms" WHAT DOES THAT MEAN!!!!!!!! AND THE DIALOGUE WAS DISGUSTING!!!!!!!!!!!! IMAGINE LOCUTUS DELIVERING LINES LIKE THAT!!!!!!!!
9) WHAT'S THE POINT OF THE EMOTION CHIP?????? IT JUST MAKES DATA LOOK LIKE A CHARACTER WHO EVOLVES WHEN NEW HARDWARE IS ADDED!!!!!!!!! IT RUINED THE CHARACTER!!!!!!
10) THE SPACEWALK SEQUENCE WENT ON FOR AGES AND AGES AND AGES!!!!!!! NO DIALOGUE, NO STORY PROGRESSSION, NOTHING!!!!!!!!
11) THE IDEA OF THE COCHRANE CHARACTER WAS NEVER USED ENOUGH!!!!!!!! WHAT A WASTE!!!!!!! WHOSE GOING TO BUY THE PHOENIX??????!!!!!!! WHAT ARE HIS MOTIVATIONS?????????!!!!!!!!!!
12) DEANNA BEING DRUNK IS SO OUT OF CHARACTER IT'S UNREAL!!!!!!!!!!!!
13) LILY DOES NOTHING!!!!!! SHE JUST TAGS ALONG EVERYWHERE!!!!!! LIKE EVERY OTHER CHARACTER, SHE HAS NOTHING TO DO!!!!!!!
14) THE ONLY REASON PICARD WON'T BLOW UP THE SHIP IS FOR THAT SCENE WHERE LILY TALKS HIM OUT OF IT!!!!!! WHY IS IT SUCH A CLASSIC SCENE????!!!! IT WAS NO DIFFERENT FROM THE SCENE IN "I, Borg"?????? WHY IS IT SO OVER THE TOP AND OUT OF CHARACTER???????!!!!! IT'S SO, SO, SO STUPID
15) WE GET A STUPID PUNCH OUT ENDING WHERE PICARD REMEMBERS THE BORG QUEEN FOR NO REASON!!!!!!!
16) THE ENDING COULD'VE BEEN NICE, BUT IT WAS SO BORING I DIDN'T CARE!!!!!!!
17) EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS FILM WAS STUPID AND BORING!!!!!
I have no idea why you or anyone like it as much as you do. Whatever.
james
Sun, Sep 11, 2011, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
Watched this film again recently, have to say its the last great outing for the TNG crew. Still makes me want to see the old tv show again. Maybe Ill do just that...
tingletangle
Mon, Dec 5, 2011, 3:03am (UTC -5)
Watched this movie yesterday for the first time in about a decade, and felt the ''first contact'' side of the plot with Cochrane held up a lot better than the fight against the Borg did. Can't help thinking that's a major flaw, considering the Borg plot was the one which involved Picard and Data, probably the TNG crew's two most interesting and likeable characters.

Also agree with those who said this was where the ruination of the Borg began - in fact, I find it more annoying here than in Voyager, because Seven of Nine produced some good TV stories while the Queen never did.

All in all, I felt a lot less satisfied by this movie than I do after watching many TNG television episodes which are less than half its length. That said, it's not terrible and it's always nice to see this crew in any setting.
RG
Wed, Feb 8, 2012, 3:28am (UTC -5)
I hate, hate, hated this movie. Picard is turned into a jackass instead of the calm, collected captain we know and love, and all of the other characters act weird as well. It makes me wonder if the writers have seen even one episode of TNG. Not to mention the plot is a complete abortion and full of holes. Interesting how Jammer goes out of his way to point out the plot contrivances of Star Trek VI (which is a far better film) and yet glosses over the nonsensical garbage in the First Contact screenplay. Oh, and did I mention this is the movie that ruined the Borg forever?
Justin
Mon, Mar 26, 2012, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
@Jammer, the Borg queen is not a single individual. As she said, "I am the collective." Which means her consciousness exists everywhere the Borg do. When needed, the Queen becomes corporeal and interactive. That's why she showed up again, and again, and again in Voyager. In the Voyager finale the role was reprised by Alice Krige.

Now, I wouldn't be a real Trek fan without having a few minor nits to pick. I did think it was unnecessary to have Picard have to speed to Earth's rescue. And it did seem like it only took him 5 minutes to get there. Weren't they patrolling the Romulan neutral zone?

The other nagging question is why does the Borg sphere bombard Cochrane's compound with what seemed like nothing more than ineffectual disruptor blasts. This is The Borg we're talking about. Shouldn't they be able to just vaporize the whole area? Or use their laser cutter to scoop it up? That would have been more plausible and a more natural thing for Enterprise to be able to stop from happening.

Other than that, I agree. It's the best TNG movie and the 2nd best Trek movie overall. And I loved the Alfre Woodard character. Alice Krige was also terrific as the queen.
Duge
Thu, Apr 19, 2012, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
This was one of my favorite Star Trek movies and is what, perhaps, did the most to turn me into a Star Trek spinoff fan even though I had been casually watching the series- in various incarnations for years. Instead of meandering around a lot- like in Generations- this was thrilling and suspenseful story that reminded me of what I liked so much about movies like Aliens and other horror films. For some reason, BOBW and other TNG episodes (except maybe the first one-Q-Who?) never really made me fear the Borg. Yes, they were powerful and threatening to the Federation and, yes, they ravaged an entire Federation fleet and captured Captain Picard and turned him into one of them but here they exhbit a truly menacing presence, establishing a foothold on the Enterprise itself and mercilessly picking off Enterprise crew members one at a time and turning them into Borg drones, almost like a good zombie movie. The sight of seeing a crew member lying on the ground turning grey as he is assimilated by the nanoprobes injected into him is creepy but what is even more creepy is Picard dispassionately phasering him to death, in accordance with his previous chilling directive to fire on former Enterprise crew members assimilated by the Borg. The movie's study of how Picard's previous experiences with the Borg and how others around him viewed his actions and judgement regarding the Borg was the most compelling part of the movie, an interesting contrast with the character of Khan in TWOK. Here, our "hero" is the one with "revenge issues". Thankfully, unlike Khan, Picard had a more supportive crew and other people around whom were willing to confront him about his recklessness and ultimately saved him (and, likely humanity), from himself. The one thing that I found slightly odd about Picard's intense reaction towards the Borg is that this isn't the first time since BOBW that Picard was faced with the Borg. After all, the Enterprise did encounter the Borg in two different episodes during the TV series (I, Borg & Descent) and he did not exhibit quite the same level of intensity towards them that he did towards the Borg in this particular situations. Plus, he did have some emotional release in "Family", which immediately followed BOBW. However, this is only a minor point. Picard's relentless vendetta against the Borg made for some really memorable scenes towards the end and it was great seeing Picard get really angry and fiery for once. Data's back-and-forth dialog with the Borg Queen was really fascinating as well and I was definitely not the only one in the theater who cheered loudly when he turned the tables on the Borg Queen, who thought that she had Data under her thumb, and not only prevented Cochrane's warp ship from being destroyed by deliberately missing it but took out the Queen and the rest of the Borg collective by venting the plasma core. Awesome scene. It was also nice to see other supporting cast members on Earth playing a significant role in helping ensure that the warp flight goes as planned. The fact that Vulcans turned out to be the first ETs to make contact with Earth seemed......well...fitting, given their prominent role in the UFP. Excellent movie all around.

Note: I've often thought it would've been neat to have somehow managed to bring Sisko into the story to compare and contrast their reaction to the Borg, given that both of them were intimately affected by the Borg's invasion of the Federation and the battle of Wolf 359. It probably would've ended up being too much storyline to handle but it would've made for an interesting crossover.
Jay
Sun, Apr 22, 2012, 6:50pm (UTC -5)
This movie introduced the ridiculous concept of a Borg Queen, which runs counter to everything we've learned about the Borg so far. Worse of all is that they tried to retcon her into the events of the tour de force BOBW, having Picard, upon seeing her suddenly "remember her" from that experience, when she was nowhere to be seen. Inexcusable.

Voyager is accused of ruining the Borg, but this one film did more damage than the entire 7 year run of Voyager could ever have dreamed.
Latex Zebra
Thu, Apr 26, 2012, 3:46pm (UTC -5)
I think Picard's meltdown certainly shows the leanings of DS9 and Ronald D. Moore's influence on Trek.

I still go back to this from time to time and always enjoy it. This isn't just a great Trek film it's a great film full stop.
Brandon
Wed, Jun 27, 2012, 6:21pm (UTC -5)
RedLetterMedia has a habit of taking every possibly plot nitpick and translating it as "the entire plot doesn't make sense". Yeah, the whole "Borg go to Earth and THEN time travel" thing, and Picard's flawed portrayal as inconsistent with his TNG persona, are valid criticisms. But other than that, RLM focuses on little except other minor nitpicks and ignores the fact that, within its slightly flawed premise, it's a very well-made, exciting, and intelligent movie.

RLM's obsession on plot inconsistencies works great when he's dissecting the Star Wars prequels, but not here. It also made him a complete hypocrite when he gave a pass to XI and the forced, nonsensical hernia that was THAT movie's script, so take RLM with a grain of salt. He's pretty biased against the TNG movies as a whole, because he saw the TNG films as a misplaced studio attempt to merely turn a smart franchise into dumb action movies.
Eduardo
Fri, Aug 24, 2012, 10:31am (UTC -5)
Listen to the Brannon Braga / Ronald D. Moore commentary on the DVD/Blu-Ray, if you get the chance. It's by far the best audio commentary in any of the 11 Star Trek films.

They really delve into the origins of the story, and don't shy away from criticizing a scene or two either.

But the best moment in this commentary is during the movie's final act. Brannon and Ron really try and dissect the reason people started nitpicking Trek almost to a fault.

They both agree that what killed Trek and Enterprise was pretty much familiarity, which led to franchise fatigue. It became intimidating to continue writing new stories, without running into the pitfalls of contradiction, due to the sheer complexities of the Trek universe, as well as fan expectations.

This commentary was recording around 2004/2005. Brannon was running Enterprise, and Ron was running BSG. And even then, Brannon said it out loud that it was time for the franchise to take an "electrical jolt in order to start fresh" - his words.

In a way, he pretty much predicted what would happen in a just a few years, with the JJ Abrams 'reboot'.
Patrick
Mon, Oct 22, 2012, 8:28pm (UTC -5)
There's some cool continuity in this movie that really tickles me:

Cmdr Riker refers to The Defiant as a "tough, little ship" (to Worf's chagrin). Thomas Riker called it the same thing in the DS9 episode, "Defiant" a year earlier.

In the TNG episode, "New Ground", Geordi rhapsodizes how amazing it would have been to be there when Zefram Chochrane using the first warp drive. In this movie, he got his wish!
Rosario
Sun, Nov 11, 2012, 1:13am (UTC -5)
A lot of comments about the ruination of the Borg. I would posit that this ruination is from a seed that was planted earlier. Sadly, I believe the downfall of the Borg began in BOBW pt.2. No one should be able to come back from assimilation. This, "redemption" was a crack in the otherwise pristine armor of the Borg as relentless villains. Now they could be "saved." Then we meet Hugh and we humanize the Borg. After that Lore brainwashes them and now they're just misguided. You can't honestly say this movie is the "start" of the downfall of the Borg. This movie is more, the seed after carefull watering, finally coming to full flower.

I do love this movie though. The soundtrack especially is a favorite.

One thing always bothered me though. We see the effectiveness of Worf's blade. Why can't anyone say, "Computer. Blade, katana, 2 million folds." Boom that's it. Borg move like they're in water - just get a bladed weapon and hack them to bits
Jack
Tue, Dec 25, 2012, 11:34am (UTC -5)
It was incredibly out of character for Data to break the plasma tube in the climactic battle with the Queen without Picard being first secure from the danger of it...
Patrick
Tue, Apr 16, 2013, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
It's amazing how much the two UPN Trek series gleaned from this movie. From the fourth season on, it was "Borg, Borg, Borg, and more Borg" from Star Trek: Voyager (in fact they'll use the term "first contact" constantly). And hell, Star Trek: Enterprise was pretty much created from this movie with the introduction of the Vulcans in ST:FC. The only real influence on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was a mention "In Purgatory's Shadow" and the new, grey uniforms.

And for people wondering why the Borg were interested in Data; remember: he was considered "a primitive artificial organism" but help defeat them in "BOBW pt II".
Frank Wallace
Tue, Jul 9, 2013, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
I could NEVER grasp the fondness for this movie. People always said "it's the good TNG movie". They are all equally bad to me, but for different reasons. RedLetterMedia's review of this DOES explain quite a lot that I agree with. It's not just the minor nitpicks like the stupid pointless window room, or the Defiant not having her actual captain, or this anti Borg ship getting its ass handed to it by the Borg, only to surely be destroyed by the explosion or stuff like that.

Picard already dealt with his Borg issues in the show. Quite definitively. Data already dealt with temptation of more human like qualities previously. Picard is MASSIVELY out of character this whole film, and he's not the only one. Worf was willing to ram the Defiant into the cube, and die in battle like a Klingon, but later WON'T die on the Enterprise? Time travel plots are stupid for so many reasons. They always open the colossal door to "why didn't they do that before?" type questions.

I can't watch this movie and pretend not to be a Star Trek fan. I re-watched it a couple of weeks back on Film Four. The whole opening segment is contrived retconning nonsense to create false tension and conflict. You basically have to switch off the Trek part of your brain to just sit back and enjoy a reasonably well put together action adventure in space. The fight sequence was nice to see, but there are too many little holes in the film that annoy me and make me cringe, and too many big holes in the plot and characters to just forget 7 years of TNG. And we know now in retrospect how studio influence led to the Borg Queen, taking the first step towards ruining this uniquely interesting Trek villain species.

No, sorry, as a Star Trek story, with these characters, they've had to basically gut the whole meat and bones from TNG to make this work, and I find it hard to watch. It's only better than the other 3 because it's not boring.
Jeffrey Bedard
Fri, Jul 12, 2013, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
I do think that FIRST CONTACT is the best of the 4 TNG films.

One question that stays with me about the Borg in general (although it pertains to this film as well): If the Borg adapt to situations, why is it that at each individual encounter the Borg wait 'til the humans are a threat before assimilating them? After "Q Who" you would think that each and every time the Borg encountered humans (Federation or not) they would start assimilating immediately? Obvously, that would ruin the stories, but you would think that would be more of the case and also make the Borg more terrifying. They're wouldn't be giving us any chances anymore! :)
Paul
Thu, Sep 12, 2013, 7:38pm (UTC -5)
Having the Vulcans as humanity's first contact was an inspired move.
Moonie
Sun, Sep 15, 2013, 10:55am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this movie immensely. IMO this is the best of the TNG movies.

But to me, it also raises questions. Did the Enterprise crew not affect/change history by assisting in the first warp flight? Sure, they merely helped achieve what happened in their past and what was *supposed* to happen but I find it hard to swallow that such a major interference in a historic event would remain without consequences.
Nick
Fri, Nov 29, 2013, 4:37am (UTC -5)
I love this film, especially the scene between Picard and Lilly in the ready room.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt your little quest! Captain Ahab had to go hunt his whale!"

Patrick Stewart is an incredible actor.
Rae
Fri, Jan 10, 2014, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
"Don't begin to ask me how a non-Trekker would react, though — I wouldn't know."

It was in very late 2000 that my best friend decided that I needed to get into Trek. I had no use for sci-fi at the time.

I let her give me a crash course in the various Trek series and characters, but wasn't convinced. She knew I liked western and pioneering stories and thought that a first contact story might pique my interest.

So the very first Trek I saw was this movie, which she assured me was a really good sci-fi movie that even a non-Trekker/Trekkie could appreciate.

I knew nothing about the characters, the Borg, and remember being incredibly confused by the holodeck sequence, but I was completely entranced.

Then we got to Lily and Picard's final exchange:

"I envy you, the world you're going to."
"And I envy you, taking these first steps into a new frontier."

I could have been me conversing with Picard. I was hooked, on both Trek and sci-fi.

I started with TOS, which I fell in love with almost immediately, tried a few eps of TNG and had no use for it (still don't), and then fell madly in love with DS9. I eventually moved on to Firefly, Farscape, BSG, Stargate, Babylon 5, etc.

I am convinced that I would not be a fan of Trek or of any other sci-fi show or movie had someone who knew me too well not ordered me to sit down and watch this movie.
Michael
Sun, Apr 20, 2014, 10:06am (UTC -5)
Firstly, I have to respond to that Mister-Caps-Is-Cruise-Control-For-Cool, because no. Just no.

1) The story is most definitely big enough, and the characters defined enough for the purpose. What could possibly be bigger than wiping out the whole of mankind before we could achieve the greatness that had been explored in every incarnation of Trek up to this movie.

2) To underscore Picard's intimate in-tuneness (I couldn't think of the right way to word it, so it's staying) to the Collective after what they did to him. People have dreams within dreams more than they realise, and that Picard is having such an experience about the Borg only highlights his anxiety about encountering them again.

3) Because of the time travel aspect. Now, granted, that's something that's annoyed me about the Borg in First Contact as well. If they had the ability to travel back in time to assimilate mankind in the past, then why not do so when there is no Enterprise around to stop them? You might argue that the Temporal Agency in the 29th-ish century would stop them, but if the Collective was able to distract them sufficiently with other events simultaneously, they could pull it off and see to it that there WAS no Temporal Agency.

4) Because that's the way bureaucracy works. Those in charge give orders regardless of whether or not they make sense. The Admiral assumed that Picard might crack, since he hasn't actually had a full-on encounter with the Collective since his assimilation. Command had no prior experience to think he would be an asset in the battle, and they made a judgement call.

5) It's assumed that all Trek fans MIGHT have watched enough DS9 up until this point to grasp it, and for those that didn't ... keep in mind they never televised or even showed us Sulu's promotion to Captain and assignment to the Excelsior prior to actually seeing him in command. It's been a couple of years since the Big-D went down, so it's assumed that SOME officers received transfers rather than wait around in limbo.

6) We don't know what many things are before they come into it. New people to the franchise will patiently wait for it to be explained, and it soon was. Trekkies know about First Contact since TOS days. It has been mentioned in the franchise, though not detailed, multiple times.

7) Skipping this point because you're only one-third right.

8) The Borg Queen was, conceivably, essential to the concept of the Collective. All the times the Borg have been in Trek, they've been described as having a HIVE MIND. Now anyone that knows anything will know that no Hive can function without a Queen, or some other individual driving that collective. It makes sense that the Borg would have a personification of that aspect of the Collective as well. When she talks about humans thinking in such three-dimensional terms, it's VERY CLEAR that she's pointing out that the Borg are capable of much more than we are. New Queens could be created as needed, with the consciousness downloaded into the new body from encrypted backup files within the Collective. That's just one example. Keep in mind that after her death in this movie, she was again seen multiple times in Voyager.

9) The emotion chip did far less than you claim. It hardly ruined the character. It gave him a quirky side when he was trying to work out its mechanisms, and made him slightly more in tune with his human/oid friends amongst the crew. Soong created the chip exactly for that reason.

10) Again, going to skip this point, because it's wrong and not worthy of rebuttal.

11) No one was going to buy the Pheonix itself. But that level of tech on a ravaged world would have been like gold during the rush. Every major power still licking its wounds from WW3 would have been after it. Why stay around on a planet with a bunch of people you hate when you can just warp to another and start over? How do we do that sir? Well, this guy in Montana has a ship. With this engine, see? We buy it. Why not steal it sir? Because we're the good guys, y'see? oooor Because he might sabotage it just to spite us. He states quite clearly that his only motivation towards building the Pheonix was to be rich. Wether or not that changed, or he put on the face of that having changed, after the flight, is left to viewer discretion.

12) Not when she's trying to get the information she wants. Would you prefer the hold a phaser to his face and hope the question he asks isn't "What the hell is that and where did you get it from darlin'?" approach?

13) Lily provides counterpoint to Picard. With his rampaging all over the ship killing anything that moves and mutilating Borg to steal their guts (obviously I'm exaggerating), the only other person in the crew that stood up to him was Worf. Did that work? No. Picard slapped him in the face verbally by calling him a Coward. It wasn't until someone from the 21st century compared him to a 19th century novel character and made him see that what he was doing wasn't justice, it was revenge. Still think she did nothing? Would you have rathered not have her there and have let the story line continue with everyone in the crew continuing to be systematically assimilated until the Borg completely controlled the Enterprise? No one else put Picard in his place and made him listen to his officers the way she did.

14) You claim that the scene is out of character, but it isn't really. From your comments, your comments I can assume that you prefer the series over the movies. But in the series, Picard was VIOLATED by the Borg. Statistically, more than 60% of humans who are wronged want vengeance. Picard showed some hints of this in I, Borg when he actually considered using an INDIVIDUAL drone against the Collective. He shows this again in a monumental scale after further years of the Borg hindering the Federation, and now seeking to take over his ship.

15) Refer to my earlier point of how the Queen could have survived. Prior to the distruction of that cube, she could have transported out. That cube could have rendezvoused with another ship en-route to Earth to offload the Queen. The Collective could have made another and had her consciousness downloaded from the Hive Mind. The possibilities are staggering. Remember that they have access to technology the Federation doesn't, and so it is believable that the Queen WAS on board the cube that Picard was assimilated by.



Onto Jammer:

I loved this movie. Of all time, it's my second favourite Trek film, and that was a tough call. Wrath of Khan will always be my favourite, because Ricardo Montalban was the villain in the very first Trek episode I EVER watched, and to see him return bent on revenge with a stolen Starfleet vessel just gave me chills. I still hum the music from the scene where the two ships approach each other in open space sometimes at random. And then that gives me the urge to watch the movie. Plenty of episodes of TNG-era Trek had the potential to show similar scenes of Starfleet-v-Starfleet battles, but those that did push that button (Defiant v Lakota, DS9; Ent-D v Pheonix, TNG, Voyager v Equinox, VOY) didn't quite match the thrill factor I experienced when the Reliant opened up on the Enterprise, or when Kirk responded in kind.

That said, I'm an EPIC sucker for space battles in any science fiction. And this rates as one of the best (included in my list are the fight from Star Trek X, Star Wars III, the season 9 finale of Stargate SG:1, and the series finale of Stargate: Atlantis). So to see the fleet fighting the Borg practically at the onset of the film was something that I enjoyed more than I can presently think to word.
mark
Mon, Dec 22, 2014, 8:46am (UTC -5)
Just watched this again yesterday on blu-ray and a few things stick out:

First, if the Borg could travel back in time to assimilate Earth, why didn't they just do that in the first place rather than attack the planet with a cube and have to fight off the Federation fleet? (And why did they once again only send *one* cube to attack Earth?)

Lily was all well and good but her inclusion took valuable screen time away from the cast. Sure, she gives us a point of view character who can comment on the differences the 24th century represents, but I think giving Doctor Crusher a meaty character moment was a much more important consideration. Crusher should have been the one who talked Picard down at the end, not Lily. It would have given the relationship between Crusher and Picard a nice jolt and it would have given Gates Mcfadden something to do. She's the Chief medical Officer after all and she has every right to relieve the captain of duty if his behavior is endangering the ship. More to the point, she's the one member of the crew who, by virtue of their relationship, could believably engage in a shouting match with Picard. Moore and Braga dropped the ball on this.

I liked Crusher's impatient and condescending tone toward the EMH. I never subscribed to the idea that the EMH on Voyager could have become sentient, so this scene was a breath of fresh air for me. Data is a person, and his creation was a remarkable event; the EMH is a holographic tool that happened to be used a lot on Voyager. Just because you play a hologram over and over again, that doesn't make it alive.

The Borg Queen--she sort of made sense in that she was analagous to a queen bee, I thought the idea of her vamping around trying to seduce Data came off a bit silly. And did she really need to be wearing lipstick?

Best scene: Troi drunk.
Timothy
Tue, Jan 13, 2015, 12:08am (UTC -5)
Watch the scene in BoBW where The Collective addresses Picard:

"You speak for your people."
"I have nothing to say to you. And I will resist you with my last ounce of strength."
"Strength is irrelevant, resistance is futile. We wish to improve ourselves....."

That scene still sends chills up my spine. The Borg are so completely alien in BoBW; you can't reason with them, you can't destroy them, they are a simple force of nature all the emotion of a spider devouring its prey, e.g., NONE.

Then came First Contact and a retconned Queen as a personification of The Collective. Alright, I can get behind the Queen, that's what Locutus' character was there for after all. Except of course she has to take things personally, get angry, and have a human desire for revenge. WTF? Remember how Locutus dismissed his "abduction" in BoBW, without a hint of emotion or concern? That's how the personification of The Collective behaves!

The Borg in BoBW and Scorpion (I can't believe I'm citing Voyager as an example of doing it right!) were genuinely frightening. After that they were just the Bad Guys of The Week.

And +1 for whoever mentioned RedLetterMedia. The part of his review called "A Tale of Two Picards" nails it. Completely out of character. FC is 90% dumbed down action movie and 10% Trek. The 10% was the final scene with the Vulcans landing, Lily, Picard, and Cochrane. That was Trek; too bad the payoff wasn't worth the pain of the rest of the movie.

In my mind TNG will always have ended with "All Good Things..."
Latex Zebra
Wed, Jan 28, 2015, 10:28am (UTC -5)
Assuming that when they return to the future, any descendants of the people killed in Montana during the Borg opening attack just vanish from existence.

Lets hope none of them did anything important like cure Talamarian Flu, campaign for equal rights for tribbles or invent the replicator or some shit like that.

That would be bad.
Locke
Thu, Jan 29, 2015, 10:31pm (UTC -5)
I really love First Contact. It's a superb balance of action, character driven drama and classic Trekkian philosophy. It's really got the whole lot, and the pacing of the seperate stories is brilliant. I think structurally it's one of the best made sci-fi action movies ever, Star Trek or no. The beginning is a masterclass on how to start a movie. Set up the story, briefly set up the characters, set up Picard's past relationship with the Borg and how he has issues there and then BOOM, within 10 minutes you've learnt something about the whole situation and you're in the middle of a giant battle. No bullshit; no screwing around but also nothing skipped over... just stripped down to the essentials without time wasting. I agree with Jammer... Quote:

"It's reassuring that at least some cinematic version of the future has imagination and hope for humanity and still has the prudence not to always take itself so seriously."

That's it... There's something in the soul of this film that really understands what underlies and defines Star Trek. You CAN have this AND do a great action movie at the same time! *shakes fist at Abrams* grr! =)
Rae's Boss
Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
@Rae: Didn't watch TNG? Inexcusable.
NCC-1701-Z
Thu, May 14, 2015, 2:19pm (UTC -5)
Easily my favorite TNG movie, and probably my 3rd or 4th favorite overall. The other TNG movies can't hold a candle to this one. It's just such a perfect balance of action, sci-fi, and uplifting Trek philosophy. And it actually works very well as a standalone movie - you can watch and enjoy this without having seen a single episode of TNG. It's a fairly good jumping off point for new fans in that regard.

The only minus point in this one I think is the Borg Queen. Don't get me wrong, in the movie she's used well, but her long-term utilization in future Trek productions (looking at you Voyager) did a lot to water down the Borg. In essence - short-term awesomeness, long-term drag. This movie was, IMO, the only time the Borg Queen was used properly. (I read once that had Enterprise been extended for a 5th season, one episode would have explored the origins of the Borg Queen. Not sure if that would have been a good idea or not since we never saw it on screen.) I don't blame the writers; from a dramatic standpoint a central villain figure was probably necessary for a good payoff and it would have been hard to write a final confrontation scene facing off against the entire faceless Borg collective. I guess we'll never know.

Also of note that this movie probably did a lot to extend the shelf life of Trek for several more years. Much like how Wrath of Khan eventually led to the creation of TNG, this movie did a lot to set up the backstory for Enterprise (whether or not that is a good thing is entirely your own opinion), although strictly speaking the closest we got to a direct followup/sequel was ENT's "Regeneration".

Also, I have to say, love, LOVE the new phaser rifle design that debuts in this movie. And the Enterprise-E is probably my favorite starship design overall. Pity we only saw it in three movies.
Skeptical
Fri, Jul 3, 2015, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
I know people complain a lot about nitpicks. Personally, they usually don't bother me. If you want to, you can nitpick any great movie. So the command codes for Federation starships is a simple 5 digit code? Scotty takes Preston's body up to the bridge instead of immediately to sickbay? Spock gives the most blatantly obvious code in existence? So what? Wrath of Khan is still a great movie even with these silly parts. And First Contact is still a great movie despite its silliness too.

But the complaint I really don't like is that this is nothing more than actiony fluff. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Now, I'm probably going a bit far with this, but I think there's a lot of parallels between the A and B plots (and a bit of the C plot as well). I mean, not the Zombies in Space part of the A plot, but the Picard part. Look at how the crew idolized Cochrane, particularly LaForge and Barclay. His flight, his character, and his subsequent first contact with aliens was so built up in the minds of the Starfleet crew that it's hard for them to imagine that their hero was a drunk and a lecher who couldn't care less about the rest of humanity. It was a case of the fallen idol.

Now look at the A plot. To the Starfleet crew, Cochrane represented the best of humanity. But to Trek fans, it is Picard who represents the best of humanity. While people can argue the Kirk vs Picard (vs Sisko) for all eternity, it's clear that Picard is the ideal of Roddenberry's "evolved" human. He is the thoughtful, calm, rational renaissance man, and can always be turned to in order to give the Picard speech about the greatness of humanity. He is the living embodiment of enlightenment. And in this movie, we see him fail. Hard. Like Cochrane to the Starfleet crew, he is the fallen idol of Trek's optimism.

"Don't try to be a great man. Just be a man, and let history take its course."

Yet, Cochrane didn't fail. Yes, he ran. And he got zapped for his cowardice. While it seemed to be that he was forced into it, he really wasn't. In the cockpit, he smiled and said he was ready to make history. Sure, he chickened out for awhile, but he still was willing to go through it with. He may not have been the idol that Starfleet thought he was, but he still did the right thing.

This is most notable in the actual First Contact scene. The Vulcans landed, and everyone just stares at them. Riker eventually reminds Cochrane that he's kinda the reason the aliens are here. And so what does he do? He steps forward. Remember, this is a guy who's initial plan was to retire to a tropical island filled with naked ladies. This was a guy who's idea of a good time is getting plastered. This was a guy who had pretty much zero cares about the rest of humanity. And he knew that this was an extraordinarily important moment in the history of humanity. So he knew that he, of all people, was going to end up being the ambassador of humanity.

And what does he do? He walks forward. He accepts his role as the ambassador, and does the best he can. When the most important moment of his life appeared, he made the right choice. Zeframe Cochrane may not have been the visionary that future engineers thought him to be. But whatever else he was, he was still a good man, and still managed to usher in a new era for humanity. His quote Riker threw back at him fits him perfectly. He ended up doing the right thing and being vindicated and downright revered for it.

(BTW, one nice bit of direction here: we all know Jonathan Frakes is a tall guy. Yet when he talks to Cochrane in this scene, James Cromwell looks about 8 inches taller. Riker is literally looking up to Cochrane at the moment that Cochrane becomes the hero of history.)

So let's go back to Picard. His story is the same thing. Sure, we saw for seven years that he was a great man, and for the most part he lived up to that ideal. But Roddenberry's vision of mankind in the future wasn't "for the most part", it was perfection. Picard's statement here that mankind had evolved beyond such base desires is exactly what Roddenberry wanted. And Lily's response is perfectly in line with ours: "Bull---."

Picard doesn't just falter here, he falls dramatically. We see him at his worst, giving irrational orders that could get people killed (or worse), succumbing to anger, insulting some of his closest friends, and seeking bloodlust. Is it a bit much compared to what we are used to from Picard? Perhaps, but we're used to seeing him at his best, seeing him up on a pedestal. Because of that, this episode needed to knock him off the pedestal as much as possible. It was easy to do with Cochrane, since this was the first we saw him (yes, yes, TOS, close enough...). So it had to be as unsubtle as what we saw, because it needed to be shocking to see his other side. The whole "tale of two Picards" is deliberate!

But like Cochrane, his dark side needed to be temporary. Like Cochrane, all it took was one kick in the pants for him to do what was right and to get right back on the pedestal again. Sure, for Picard, it's not a history-defining moment, but it doesn't need to be. We are already used to seeing him as the great hero, so its enough to see him return to the calm rational captain we all know. The route was a bit different, but the arc was the same as Cochrane: idealized character gets seen at his worst, yet still comes through in the end.

(One could take this further and add Data as a parallel: the incorruptible member of the crew getting tempted by the Borg, but ultimately sacrificing his dream to do what was right. But that might be pushing it a bit.)

So why is this interpretation so important? Again, it all goes back to Roddenberry's utopia. By doing it like this, this film is essentially a deconstruction/reconstruction of that utopia. The writers, quite clearly, do not agree with Roddenberry's view that mankind will become perfect in this new technocratic society. By putting both the Roddenberry ideal character and the in-universe savior of humanity as imperfect, emotional fools, we are shown as plainly as possible that humanity still has its faults.

Yet, most importantly, we see this without removing the fundamental aspect of Roddenberry's vision, that of optimism for the future. This isn't In The Pale Moonlight, where Sisko sacrifices his principles to gain an ally in a war. This isn't dark and grim and pessimistic in the slightest. In universe, Cochrane is still a hero in the eyes of the Starfleet officers despite knowing his flaws, and he still steps forward and accepts his place in history. And to us, despite seeing the anger and fear in Picard, he is still the moral center of the Trek Universe.

And most importantly, this is actually a BETTER vision of the future than Roddenberry's silly utopia. Roddenberry is saying that you are a pathetic, fallen, dark individual, unable to reach an enlightened state, but perhaps someday your children's children's children will become perfect. Moore and Braga are saying that you already have this potential, that you are potentially great, and that the great society of the future is in your reach if you and everyone else would work towards this goal. Which is a better vision? Which stirs your soul more?

If I may quote Ronald Reagan for a moment (please, no politics about the source of the quote): "I've seen what men can do for each other and do to each other, I've seen war and peace, feast and famine, depression and prosperity, sickness and health. I've seen the depth of suffering and the peaks of triumph and I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph and that there is purpose and worth to each and every life."

That is the message of First Contact. And that is a beautiful, stirring, uplifting message. It is a far better message than Roddenberry's, and so this movie, which ended up essentially being the swan song of the TNG (lets face facts, nobody cares much for Insurrection or Nemesis), serves to reboot and improve on Roddenberry's message. TNG is the show that focused so much on the philosophical, so much on fleshing out the optimistic future that Trek stands for. So it is fitting that we have the final statement on that message. Not subvert it, not try to tear it down, not show the dark side of it, but to clarify and perfect the message.

And it is even more fitting that that message culminates in the focal point of Trek history, the moment of First Contact itself. Such a beautiful scene.

I love Wrath of Khan, but this movie defines Trek for me.
William B
Sat, Jul 4, 2015, 11:52am (UTC -5)
@Skeptical, I really agree with what you've written. I had started writing something on the movie after rewatching it but began to find the whole thing daunting. On a minor point, I actually don't think it's pushing it at all to include the Data plotline here; Data's corruptibility, after all, is tied *directly* to his search for humanity, and the threat of corruption is specifically geared to his difficulty dealing with human emotions and his desire for human flesh.

The other intriguing parallel, which I think deserves a lot more elaboration than I'm going to give here, is that the title "First Contact" also refers to both/all three plots. The Borg go back to stop humans' first contact with other life forms, which represents the opportunity for humans to expand. But the other big motivation for the Borg, as personified by the Borg Queen, turns out to be the desire for "a counterpart," to "bridge the gap" between humanity and the Borg; the Borg wanted Picard as a counterpart, and then (seem to) find one in Data. The Borg were, and are, seeking their own "first contact." When Picard wanders into the lion's den to find Data, he's dealing with his own unfinished business, which comes down to his own repressed memories of his contact (which the Borg Queen sexualizes as sexual contact) with the Borg; Picard's anger, it seems to me, stems from misplaced guilt which remains in him about what he was made to do as part of the Collective, as well as the fact that he is unable to deal with the brief moment where he and the Borg became one, and he lost himself in that contact.

This all partly works because the Borg is, among other things, an extremely dark mirror of the Federation, where the Borg's desire for exploration and harmony manifests in a desire for total domination, where "work[ing] to better ourselves and the rest of humanity" manifests as a drive to co-opt or destroy anything "imperfect," etc. And it seems to me that the Borg's interest in humanity, and Picard in particular, is in trying to understand that particular spark of...imperfection, maybe?...that eludes the Borg. The Borg's weaknesses have to do with an inability to see themselves as imperfect ("believing oneself to be perfect is often the sign of a delusional mind" -- Data), which is an exaggeration of Picard's flaw in the film, where his belief in his evolved sensibilities makes it hard for him to see his errors clearly until Lily points them out to him. Picard/Lily and Riker/Cochrane are similar stories, in opposite directions -- Riker lets Cochrane, deeply flawed man as he is, that he can be a hero, and Lily reminds Picard, deeply heroic man that he is, that he can be flawed.

I have got to say, there is something weirdly primal about the Picard-Data-Borg Queen climax; I mean, it's almost Oedipal, in that Data's apparent turning on Picard and taking on Picard's Counterpart role with the Borg Queen (who, again, sexualizes the "contact") has the hints of a son killing his father and taking his father's wife (i.e. mother). I maybe get chills from watching this section because I remember how intense it was for me as a ten-year-old who briefly believed that Data would actually permamently go over to the dark side, but it still packs a punch for me. Part of the function of the Borg Queen/Data plotline, I should add, is so that in *real time* we basically are shown (not just told) what the Queen tried to do to Picard; I doubt that she literally tried seducing him the way she does with Data, but the inversion of Picard's assimilation (Data is given human skin on a technological body, in contrast to Picard's technological implants) combined with the Queen arguing the case for the Borg philosophy gives some idea of what may have been going on in a nightmarish, subconscious level for Picard -- and which he seems to have somewhat repressed. Picard's going to rescue Data then partly works as Picard rescuing a part of himself which he had apparently "left behind," which is why, in mythic terms, he "earns back" the repressed memories, even if I'm not clear if it makes literal sense. Data and Picard work together to defeat the Queen and save each other in the process.

I do think that the Borg Queen works best (in this film) as a manifestation of the Borg's consciousness, and her/their use of sexuality in an attempt to crack Data (and Picard, Back in the Day), while a little dubious and contrary to the Borg's usual way of operating, makes sense if we view it as the Borg Collective's attempt to "seduce" a willing partner so as to fully understand the beings they believe are interesting. It's still a retcon which in many ways reduces what is interesting about the Borg, but I think it works pretty well for this movie, at least on mythic levels.
Mallory R.
Mon, Jul 27, 2015, 9:48am (UTC -5)
I adored Generations but was initially appalled by this film. My friends and I agreed this was material belonging in STNG season 5. The characters seemed to have to un-developed for the film(s). Clearly this was all meant to attract a larger audience into the cinema (I recall a lot of TV ads, too). The fuzzy thinking Hollywood script treatment made this barely tolerable, and I remain baffled by minor characters like the handsome Lt. and Lily, both given importance but contributing almost nothing.
I just re-watched this as part of watching all of Enterprise, and the best I can say is that it's a boring film. An intelligent, dramatic prologue to Enterprise would have been my preference; all that tacked on Borg junk prevented an interesting story.
Shoregrey
Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 6:36pm (UTC -5)
"they wanted to turn you into a mindless drone, to strip you of your individuality and add you to their single-minded collective."
~ You just described the modern Liberal.
Robert
Fri, Aug 14, 2015, 9:21am (UTC -5)
@Shoregrey - Oh right, conservatives are exactly the opposite right? There is so much variation there and no group think at all....

(why did I just feed the troll)
Shoregrey
Fri, Aug 14, 2015, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
@Robert - I am Libertarian, so you'll get no argument from me there, but it seems that leftist liberals have the upper hand in the media and the public eye these days, so naturally I'm going to go after the bigboy first.

The left wants to control your thoughts/speech and money while the right wants to control you morals, beliefs and sexuality.

Pick your poison.
Robert
Mon, Aug 17, 2015, 8:20am (UTC -5)
Ah well, apologies for the troll label. I'd rather be controlled by the media than my church.
Mr. Data
Tue, Aug 25, 2015, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
Shoregrey, you brought politics into a discussion about a sci-fi movie that has nothing to politics. You are, indeed, a troll.
Mr. Data
Tue, Aug 25, 2015, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
*nothing to do with politics, is how it should have read.

If you weren't a troll, you would stick to the topic and resist the impulse to rant about your political enemies.
dlpb
Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 3:48pm (UTC -5)
A troll for bringing up the fact that Trek and the writing is heavily Left Wing? What planet are you on? It's called discussion. Sci-fi often gets involved in politics by the very nature of the storytelling.
dlpb
Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 3:49pm (UTC -5)
And that's to "Mr Data", not Robert :)
Toony
Wed, Sep 23, 2015, 10:53am (UTC -5)
My thoughts
'three dimensional thoughts' the Queen means that he wasn't on the Cube going to Earth six years previously, she's saying she had a mental presence through the Collective and that's yet Picard recalls it differently with his individual human mind.
The Borgs plan was just to shoot up the launch site to make their prior invasion more successful.
Jack
Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 8:59am (UTC -5)
"they wanted to turn you into a mindless drone, to strip you of your individuality and add you to their single-minded collective."
~ You just described the modern Liberal.

Actually, if that describes anything, it's religion.
Tim
Mon, Dec 28, 2015, 1:18pm (UTC -5)
"take RLM with a grain of salt. He's pretty biased against the TNG movies as a whole, because he saw the TNG films as a misplaced studio attempt to merely turn a smart franchise into dumb action movies."

Sadly, I don't disagree with this conclusion. In Generations they destroy the Enterprise (a character in of herself) for the sake of a crash landing sequence. In the next three films we get to watch the enlightened Earl Grey drinking Shakespeare quoting Jean-Luc Picard channel his inner John McClane. Yawn.

RLM speaks for a lot of us; I personally find the "character" annoying (too much toilet humor) but the underlying insights are hard to disagree with.
Robert
Mon, Dec 28, 2015, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
"In the next three films we get to watch the enlightened Earl Grey drinking Shakespeare quoting Jean-Luc Picard channel his inner John McClane. Yawn."

So they were vastly different from the Jean Luc Jones of Captain's Holiday, Gambit or The Chase? Or John McClane himself from Starship Mine?

Look, you may not like that particularly aspect of his personality, but they flirted with the Captain being an action hero off and on for the final FIVE YEARS of TNG. It wasn't a new thing.

And it's the thing that is easiest to bring to the big screen. Is First Contact one of the TNG cast's best 10 hours? No. Is it a good/fun movie? Yes.

I actually don't mind the others either, but First Contact is in a league of it's own when it comes to TNG. Whereas TOS I thought 4/6 were really good efforts, TNG was closer to 1/4. With Generations being somewhere in between. That said, TNG's bombs were, in my opinion, not nearly as painful as the TOS movies that sucked. Or JJTrek.
Ethereality
Sun, Jan 24, 2016, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
I think people who nitpick to even the smallest details are either:
1) Too dry and detail-oriented to appreciate the bigger picture
2) Lack imagination to fill in the blanks for themselves and thus needs everything spelt out to their faces
Alex
Tue, Jan 26, 2016, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Watched First Contact again two nights ago (insomnia). What a fantastic film. I've always liked it but it just grows on me every time I watch it.
DLPB
Sat, Jan 30, 2016, 8:45pm (UTC -5)
@Ethereality Ah, the desperate "fill in the blanks" argument. I always see that when a story is full of holes and gaps because of poor writing. What you're doing is apologizing for bad writing by attacking people's intelligence for spotting said bad writing. It isn't fooling anyone.
i am right
Thu, May 19, 2016, 10:22pm (UTC -5)
very nice music in this film. That is all.
Dougie
Thu, Jun 2, 2016, 1:59am (UTC -5)
If I ended up reading in the news that the dude at Red Letter Media was apprehended cooking meth with Jennifer Lien whilst living in a trailer somewhere in Death Valley, and they defended the double-wide by popping out loose teeth and throwing them at the police, I think I'd believe it.
Chrome
Thu, Jun 2, 2016, 9:28am (UTC -5)
@Dougie

What does that have to do with ST: FC?
Dougie
Thu, Jun 2, 2016, 10:21am (UTC -5)
It's a funny and sarcastic editorial on a reviewer of Star Trek: First Contact, who, for the sake of ad impressions and likes, becomes a foul mouthed sophomoric immature and embarrassing member of my species.

Do you identify?
Chrome
Thu, Jun 2, 2016, 10:49am (UTC -5)
Yeah, I'm not feeling ya. Poor Jenny, though.
Peter G.
Thu, Jun 2, 2016, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

It seems like AI random generated comments that can be created on certain websites by providing key terms. Not sure if bots can get through the sophisticated captain-of-the-enterprise security system, but a troll user could surely post gibberish to amuse himself.
Dougie
Thu, Jun 2, 2016, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
Sorry you and your other handle disagree. Poor Jenny? What about her makes it poor. She's a drug abuser. The other reviewer/site is a collection is of foul mouthed screeds. Jammer runs a top notch site except when some commenters decide their opinion is more important than someone else's.
Chrome
Thu, Jun 2, 2016, 11:01pm (UTC -5)
So how about those killer robots and that Moby Dick analogy?
Dougie
Sat, Jun 4, 2016, 11:24am (UTC -5)
Remarkable stuff from remarkable men.
George Monet
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 3:38am (UTC -5)
Star Trek: First Contact, is by far the best Star Trek film ever made. There's a lot of moving parts with 3 different plots occurring simultaneously but they reinforce each other instead of working against each other or apart from each other and add to the movie as a whole. Needless to say I've watched it many times, the first time my dad took me to the theatre to watch it, so that's probably what sets it apart for me.

Everyone always gushes over Wrath of Khan, but honestly I severely dislike that movie for its over the top silliness and ham fisted acting (Kirk screams Khan!!!!!! only after Khan had already transported him to the planet and was no longer in contact with Kirk, resulting in Kirk making a scream that would only be heard by the people marooned with him, except Kirk knew that he wasn't actually marooned and would saved in a few hours, so that means the scream was for the benefit of the viewers and broke the 4th wall). Voyage Home is the best movie in that series in my opinion. The 1st movie was pretty awful, and the 5th and 6th were flat out unwatchable from what I remember of them. Of course they were so bad I've only seen then once each so I don't really remember them at all.
Del_Duio
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 4:50am (UTC -5)
He screams "Khaaaaaan!" Into his communicator, they were having a whole conversation up to that point (?)
Chrome
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 10:59am (UTC -5)
@George Monet

You didn't like "The Undiscovered Country"? I think you better watch it again. It's easily one of the best Trek films out there.
BC
Thu, Oct 20, 2016, 12:37pm (UTC -5)
Jack, you sound like yet another dime-a-dozen, (disgruntled?), (frightened?), (insecure?), shameless, insolent, lazy, know-it-all, total-ignoramus atheist who has zero idea what genuine religion is about, its intentions, and its potential.
Andrew
Sat, Nov 19, 2016, 8:15pm (UTC -5)
There are some flaws (mostly that some of the Cochrane scenes feel a little too, jarringly, light and there probably should have been a scene with him between being phasered and in the cockpit) but the movie still works excellently as a sequel to "The Best of Both Worlds," a TNG film and a film in itself.
Agreed that the parallels between Cochrane and Picard and Data and their storylines worked wonderfully and the cast was at the least in-character enough, Picard especially was the same character believably grappling with but able to, with help, put aside his darker and more vengeful side.
Andrew
Sat, Nov 19, 2016, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
I especially like that, though there are some (good) action scenes and Picard is effective in them, he's not some action hero, the film is willing to let Worf and Data be as or more effective and key in the action and the film doesn't feel all about or driven by action.
Andrew
Sat, Nov 19, 2016, 8:27pm (UTC -5)
I also don't get the view that Trek in the late '90s or especially mid-'00s absolutely needed to reboot, that the reason fans were becoming more dissatisfied was familiarity. Sure there was a lot of story material that could be intimidating to casual viewers but that could also provide foundations for really interesting stories (I think this film is a great example of both working as a sequel/follow-up to TBoBW and the TNG series overall for those who watched while also establishing the backstory and characters very quickly, efficiently and non-boringly for new viewers) or just go to a different time period without a lot of previous details about what it was like.
Tim
Wed, May 3, 2017, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
"So they were vastly different from the Jean Luc Jones of Captain's Holiday, Gambit or The Chase? Or John McClane himself from Starship Mine?"

Yes, they were.

"Look, you may not like that particularly aspect of his personality, but they flirted with the Captain being an action hero off and on for the final FIVE YEARS of TNG. It wasn't a new thing."

No they didn't. They never reduced Picard to a shallow one dimensional character like that. There was no, "Data, this is something I have to do" moment on the TV series, where Picard picks up a phaser and single-handily dispatches a few dozen bad guys.

"That said, TNG's bombs were, in my opinion, not nearly as painful as the TOS movies that sucked."

Only if you're viewing them in a vacuum. Yes, Nemesis > STV, but Nemesis killed TNG. We never got an "Undiscovered Country" for TNG. If STV had been the final TOS installment I think TOS fans would be justifiably bitter. First Contact is basically the best TNG movie, "best" in this case being a dumbed down action movie, with the only real "Trek" moments occurring toward the end of the Earth plot.
intro2001
Tue, May 9, 2017, 3:46pm (UTC -5)
Your minds are indeed too 3-dimentional...I'm guessing the Borg queen is an "idea" rather than a person...embodied by a version of herself on each Borg vessel
Rahul
Sat, Jun 10, 2017, 10:04pm (UTC -5)
An excellent Trek film and I'd say it's the 2nd best after WoK.

The Borg are the best villains in Trek - understanding how they operate, their purpose, what they can do - it's only appropriate that a Trek film be made about them. It's also great that ST:FC fills in some history about the first contact and Zefram Cochrane.

I've always felt a good Trek episode manages to tie 2 or 3 subplots well together and ST:FC does that well. Again like in BoBW, Picard and Riker are separated and each has to accomplish a mission.

While the characters, action, story, and numerous scenes are really well done, I do have a few nitpicks. Not particularly pleased with how ZC is portrayed as being an alcoholic - I think greater cohesion with "Metamorphosis" is in order. From what I recall of the S2 TOS episode, ZC just had it with humanity and wanted to leave it behind -- that's inconsistent with wanting a bunch of babes on an island. It's fine for ZC not to want to go down in history as a legend, but the writers went too "Hollywood" to try to spice up the film re. his personality.

I don't think there was a need for Lily -- as Jake mentioned, Crusher should have talked sense into Picard re. Captain Ahab vengeance complex.

As for the Borg Queen adding and her sexualization -- this is another aspect the writers should have left out -- this is purely for Hollywood purposes. Also agree with Jammer re. her vague history. Doesn't it violate the collective nature of the Borg - they all fall as she falls? That part was weak.

And there are the usual qualms with time travel - I had no issue with it until in the end, the Enterprise basically pushes a switch and can get back to the 24th century. It seemed to be too easy to do -- the ending wraps up awful quick. All the escape pods find their way to ZC's area in Montana somehow and then off everybody goes to the Enterprise and back to the 24th century.

But aside from the nitpicks, seeing the first contact with the Vulcans was a nice touch. And the scene I enjoyed most was Picard/Worf/token red shirt with the gravity boots on trying to let unlatch the Borg transmitter - gives a realistic sense of the danger being out in space.

The first contact, ZC's warp flight -- these are some of the most important events in Trek's history and this film does it justice. I'm sure there are some loopholes but overall, ST:FC tells the story well and effectively. I enjoyed the ENT episode "Regeneration" that picks up on this story as well.

As the 2nd best Star Trek film, ST:FC deserves 3.5 stars out of 4. I don't think it is as strong as BoBW but it's a great movie, no question.
Rahul
Sun, Jun 11, 2017, 11:58am (UTC -5)
Just one thing to add - that scene of the first contact with ZC towering over the tall Riker - had to check on James Cromwell's height - listed at 6 feet 6.5 inches, apparently the tallest actor ever nominated for an Academy Award.
Did seem odd in ST:FC that ZC was so tall...
Q
Mon, Jun 26, 2017, 10:13am (UTC -5)
To be frank, I don't like this movie at all, but... it has really fabulous opening sequence (from Picard's dream to the end of the battle of Sector 001) - best piece of grand, cinematic, Trek since The Motion Picture.
Silly
Mon, Oct 9, 2017, 8:55pm (UTC -5)
I always liked how sarcastically Picard said the lines "In my century, we don't succumb to revenge. We have a more evolved sensibility."

He KNOWS he's full of it and doesn't care.
Peter G.
Tue, Oct 10, 2017, 11:15am (UTC -5)
@ Silly,

"I always liked how sarcastically Picard said the lines "In my century, we don't succumb to revenge. We have a more evolved sensibility."

He KNOWS he's full of it and doesn't care."

You know, that's a really good point. FC focused so much on the action story and on Picard being Captain Ahab that it failed entirely to cash in on what should have been a very interesting point about humanity changing over the centuries. Picard's statement isn't BS - it should be true. He says it because he knows it's true, or it's supposed to be for people of his time. What's supposed to be poignant is that Picard has become *so damaged* by what the Borg did to him that he has actually fallen below the standard for his time in this one regard. It should be a sad moment where we realize that he was more of a victim than we realize, that he was weakened in his moral character in the specific area of revenge. Even good men can be brutalized and damaged, and that's no shame, but it can still *feel* shameful to be weakened in that way. There might even be an analogy here to being a rape victim, where you can still feel guilty even though there's no guilt.

The Earth in Cochrane's time has just been repeatedly brutalized, through the eugenics wars and then WW3. They're still in pieces when we meet them here, and there's a parallel to be drawn between the beaten humanity, exemplified by a wayward Cochrane who has lost hope, and between Picard, who has likewise been beaten down and lost some optimism. He has something in common with these people, but instead of Lily showing him how she can understand how he feels, that at worst he's only human, we instead are treated to a literary reference which is supposed to be deep but which I thought was trite even in the cinema when it first came out.

In short, the thread of Picard having fallen beneath his own values should have been a strong statement about humility and how even great men can need help. It's something Robert Picard said and he was right. But Moore focused instead on the action plot and on Picard being 'out of control', which made for some 'tension' but wasn't particularly moving in terms of what it meant to him. All Picard needed in the film was apparently to hear one speech, realize his mistake, and then he was ok again. How quaint. I think this was a big waste and is one of the reasons why FC is far more of a disappointment than a success in my book. I've rewatched it a couple of times and I have to say that it's just kind of boring at this point. Even mediocre TNG episodes have more interest for me.
Chrome
Tue, Oct 10, 2017, 11:30am (UTC -5)
@Silly and Peter G.

I also think they could've handled Picard's moral dilemma in a way that was better connected to the dystopian setting of a post WW-III era. What we got was a very neat moral package not unlike the same one Guinan delivered to Picard in "Generations".

I'm not sure if "sarcastic" is the word you're looking for. Stewart's delivery came off to me as if he was reading the line from a textbook out of memory instead of it being the usual heartfelt statement we're used to hearing. In that sense, Picard really had lost himself, and was merely just talking loftily, instead of actually being the civilized post-war/strife/greed human he purports himself to be.

As for the Robert's speech, Robert Picard actually did say something like "you're going to have to live with this for long time, Jean-Luc" in regards to his Borg assimilation. Though I think "Family" handles this a bit better, I would at least say the film is loosely linked to Robert's statement.
Chrome
Tue, Oct 31, 2017, 10:38am (UTC -5)
Red Letter Media mentioned this too, but not only does this movie feature random time travel, but the Borg easily could've just used time traveled in another system first then assimilated the Federation without tipping them off. I don't think it cuts into the heart of this piece, but the notion that the Borg's plan B was so much better than their plan A is a major plot hole. They could've avoided it too by saying there was something unique about the Earth's system that allowed Borg time travel.
Andrew
Wed, Jan 3, 2018, 12:45pm (UTC -5)
Trying to go back in time initially and preventing the Federation would forego getting its (recent) technology. It makes sense to me that the Borg would only be willing to do that, time travel in order to prevent the Federation forming in the first place, after being beaten again.
Chrome
Wed, Jan 3, 2018, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
The Borg being interested in the Federation for its technology sounds pretty sketchy since we're told they got ahold of volumes of information about Federation technology from Picard and most likely from the ships at Wolf 359 as well. The Borg at this point seem more interested in the Federation for its people and resources than anything else. It's also likely that once the Federation was assimilated, the Borg would be strategically poised to go on to assimilate the other forces in the AQ.
Dr Lazarus
Tue, Apr 24, 2018, 12:47am (UTC -5)
This is my favorite Star Trek. It even surpassed the one with the whales. I even learned some trivia, that the crew actually pees, although it is never discussed. But don't say leak though.

It is hard to stay in the movie with so many plot holes though. Why is Cochrane wasting so much time in building a Warp ship when the world is in the middle of WWIII? Is that going to destroy the Nazi's, or whoever the bad faction is in this war? And Cochrane seems to be totally clueless about being in Space. I get the impression he has never been in orbit before. I do know that rocket scientist don't typically get to ride the rockets they design and build, but this seems to be a bit far fetched. Technology is the mother of invention. So the only reason Warp Drive would ever be invented is that space exploration is very limited if it takes hundreds of years to reach the next galaxy or solar system. I never got the impression that Earth spacecraft has ever even gone to space. "Is that Earth"???????? That would be believable if the Enterprise had gone back to 1955 and hooked up with Marty and old Doc Brown in Back to The Future.

And how was it possible to initiate Auto Destruct, if Data locked out the main computer??? Wasn't that the purpose in doing that, so the enemy couldn't take control of ship systems like blowing up the ship or changing the food replicator recipes??? The Borg couldn't even get control of the Photon torpedo's or its tracking system, but destroying the ship was left wide open.

And contacting only planets that have achieved warp, always seemed odd to me. I can see that a planet becomes more sophisticated once they have built a few warp ships and know how to get to Risa to get some action. But the trailer park people in Montana don't seem any smarter an hour after the Vulcans detected a warp signature. They seemed clueless what a rocket ship even was, let alone one that was to be the first ever ship capable of travel at warp speed. And how did the Phoenix get back to Earth so quickly without using warp speed to get back? With the chemical rocket they used to get in orbit, the tiny blue marble that was Earth had to been a few days away. I don't even think they even had impulse power yet. That should had been invented well before warp technology, and made it easier to get in space instead of using an old nuclear rocket to get into space. And how did they get back on the ground? Did it land like a SpaceX 3rd stage booster? Or did they land via parachute in the ocean? There aren't any nearby oceans to Montana.

I won't even get into how the Borg Queen was able to turn on Data's emotion chip, but unable to get the encryption code from his positronic brain. And why Data was unable to turn it back off and add an encryption code to his brain just like he claimed he did with the encryption code to the main computer. And in other episodes, Data could easily choke out Borg's, but this time they easily beat him down. Not sure why he couldn't shut down the subroutine that allowed him to feel pleasure and pain on his synthetic flesh.

It was cool seeing how large a Galaxy Class Star ship really is during the space walk to rid of some Borg who can seem to survive just fine in the vacuum and cold of space, despite having organic bodies with cybernetic implants.

I do try to love this movie despite having my mind wondering why did they do this, or didn't do that.
Cody B
Sat, Jun 23, 2018, 2:47am (UTC -5)
One thing I do not understand is why it was such a secret that it was the Vulcans who make first contact with Earth. Throughout the movie, even when the Enterprise crew was talking amongst themselves, they would say “aliens” made first contact. It seems very bizarre to me that they wouldn’t just say Vulcans.
William B
Sat, Jun 23, 2018, 12:32pm (UTC -5)
It's maybe a contrivance that no one says "Vulcans" throughout the movie, but I get why it was kept as a surprise for the audience -- it's a shock of recognition that ties the movie in with broader Trek history, and by keeping it a surprise to the end, it lets the moment of contact hold the full impact. Pre-Enterprise (and Voyager's periodic references to First Contact), I don't think it was ever made explicit that Vulcans were the first non-humans officially encountered by Earthers. Certainly 10-year-old me was pretty struck by it; maybe adults seeing it for the first time would have figured it out in advance.
Bryan
Sat, Jun 23, 2018, 3:40pm (UTC -5)
In all the fairness, Riker only calls the Vulcans “aliens” when not around Cochrane in his Captain’s log. And even then, it sounds like Riker is describing a historical event from Earth’s perspective, so “alien” essentially works in context.
Cody B
Sat, Jun 23, 2018, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
That’s kind of what I thought but that’s a 4/10 surprise. I mean maybe if one of the Vulcans was spock or even sarek it would have been a way bigger payoff. Personally I think it would have been funny if the race to make first contact was the ferengi and they tried to bribe the humans to give them valuables in exchange for introducing them to the proper federation authorities for acceptance. Then riker could have taken them aside and made a threat. Or the ship lands and a Vulcan steps out and falls over dead, a trill crawls out of his mouth and into a nearby human. All the other humans look horrified and he says “welcome to space”. Cut tobcredits. Ok I’m just kidding now
Chrome
Sun, Jun 24, 2018, 7:19am (UTC -5)
I knew it was the Vulcans before they appeared. It was only logical. :-)
CaptainBaggins
Tue, Jul 3, 2018, 7:27am (UTC -5)
Some of the comments in reply to this review are a good reminder of how Trek fans are actually the worst (well, maybe not as bad as Star Wars fans, but it's close) and don't actually deserve good movies like this. If you genuinely don't like it, fine, but the ridiculous level of autistic nit-picking (OH NO WHY DIDN'T THE BORG JUST TIME TRAVEL FROM HOME LOL) is pretty sad to behold and shows how little understanding these people have of what actually makes a good movie.
NCC-1701-Z
Tue, Jul 3, 2018, 9:18am (UTC -5)
@CaptainBaggins: As Garak would say, it's best not to dwell on such minutae. :)
Chrome
Tue, Jul 3, 2018, 11:16am (UTC -5)
It's a good movie but it's far from perfect. And really, would you rather every comment be "4 stars, brilliant!" without any discussion?
Brian_C
Wed, Sep 5, 2018, 9:58pm (UTC -5)
Yes! That was the biggest flaw this film had (IMO). They beat the borg too easy at the beginning of the film and it just felt like a quickly, sloppily thrown together setup for the rest of the film.

That was a shame. They could have done something more plausible and in line with the high quality of the rest of this film and it wouldn't have felt so cheap and implausible.

It was kind of hard for me to really enjoy the stuff they did to "fix the timeline" because the reason the borg chose to alter the timeline in the first place didn't make a lot of sense.
Locutus
Tue, Nov 20, 2018, 9:08pm (UTC -5)
It's always amusing to look back on the Borg and wonder: why do we find them so terrifying? Here we have a species which personifies like no other what humankind (at least in the Trekverse) claims to aspire to - true interconnectedness. And TNG did brilliantly at showing our fear of losing our limited identities, our fear of real relationship as opposed to the relationship between two small, limited, scared identities. And so our constructed sense of self screams out "No! I can't give up what I hold most dear, otherwise I will be turned into a soulless machine with no sense of agency, and life will be stripped of all its joy". Of course the show never framed it in those terms and it always became about "good" versus "evil", but it's a good psychological study of just how much we fear what we most desire, and how we go about hiding that fear beneath an seemingly innocent facade which places individuality as the epitome of what it is to be "human". That resistance which is futile is nothing more than our resistance to love.
dillz
Thu, Mar 28, 2019, 7:13pm (UTC -5)
The best Star Trek Movie imo, and an incredible SciFi Film in general. Jerry Goldsmith knocks the theme out of the park. just unbelievable all around.

The drunk Diana Troy scene is really really good. Zeframe Cochran is great.

“It’s my first RayGun” hahaha great.

The Part when they are explaining to him that the warp engine discovery unites humanity, gives me the chills. I guess I believe that this will come true someday
Jackson
Fri, Apr 12, 2019, 9:21pm (UTC -5)
The film is massively overrated. It was unforgiveable in that it ruined the Borg and their backstory by introducing a queen, which Voyager than ran with, entirely for the worse.

Worst of all, it actually tried to retcon itself into backstory by having Picard say that he "remembered her" from the events of BOBW.

The purpose of Locutus was so that the Borg could "speak with one voice". If they had a Queen, what the hell would they have needed Picard/Locutus for?
Peter H
Sat, May 25, 2019, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
I always have in the back of my mind that this is the "good" TNG film, but I always forget just how good it is.

What I really love about it is how well it balances all its different plot threads, characters, action and themes into a very well-crafted, efficient and functioning whole. The coming together of all the different strands at the end of the film feels so effortless and natural, you're not even aware of the craft of it.

Suspension of disbelief watching Trek is always a necessity, and this film requires that you ignore the perposterousness of the time travel plot (which surely could have been instigated by the Borg well away from Earth, and thus avoiding its foil by the Enterprise crew), as well as accepting the Borg Queen's troublesome contradiction of established lore. What I found most hard to accept about the Queen was her desire to find a companion: this seems an unlikely social goal, particularly for being who is made of many voices. It just flies in the face of what we've seen of the Borg before.

But no matter: what I do appreciate is that the inclusion of the Queen as antagonist serves the movie dramatically, even if it defies logic, and while the time travel plot makes no sense the move zips along so efficiently that only a hardened nitpicker would even think about it.

Special credit goes out here for Patrick Stewart, who turns out what's become my favourite performance of Picard. He gets a lot of screen time and a lot of character work throughout the story. The scene where Lilly goads him into losing control is genuinely shocking, and it shows a real willingness on the part of the writers to show our leader as less than perfect. I always felt that TNG's utopian ideals were a bit of an unrealistic portrayal of our species, despite the fact that the humans of the 24th century were explicitly intended to be our best selves. Picard's hollow remark about "evolved sensibility" is especially clever in this context.

As an aside, I tried getting a non-Trekie to watch this film once and the whirlwind of plot in the first 20 minutes completely overwhelmed him. Incidentally he completely understood Star Trek VI and what it was about with no prior Trek knowledge (and actually while I'm at it he mostly understood and loved Galaxy Quest too). It's not a mark against this film, however, as I think its efficiency is very much to its credit.
Sleeper Agent
Sun, Jun 2, 2019, 6:35am (UTC -5)
I never liked episodes that features distorted timelines et.al., as they mostly use the element of time to create whatever scenario they want without having to bother with explanations. Therefore one can imagine my great disappointment when it in the beginning of First Contact turns out that the Borg has time travel technology.

"just before it explodes, the Borg cube launches a smaller sphere which creates a "temporal matrix" that allows it to travel back to the latter half of 21st century"

Come again? Time travel technology which they for some reason only use as a last resort to get away from Enterprise AND at the same time to assimilate Earth one day before humanity makes first contact with the Vulcans.

This plot alone is not very intelligent, but it's the best we get in this mess; because the rest is basically the rest of the crew trying to convince this alcoholic dimwit that they have to fly his ship as planned(?). The scenery is nice, but why the film makers decided to depict Cochrane and Co. as some hillbillies in a Mad Max-style commune - which a part from the first space ship that can transcend light speed only houses a giant juke box and some bar stools - is beyond me.

Meanwhile, Picard spends an eternity on a Borg infected Enterprise, going from the identical room to the next, either executing assimilated crewmen or tinkering with some circuits.

The Borg queen starts out as an interesting villain, but rather quickly descends to something all too human. The interaction with her and Data is at first quite intriguing, but after a while it seems pointless. It doesn't seem plausible that Data can be converted to a human; and I fail to see the ultimate purpose behind it.

As a long time fan of the series it's heartbreaking to see one of the most enigmatic and iconic villains in sci-fi history be portrayed as something which not correspond with earlier characterizations. Being able to destroy the Borg cube so easily, the Borg queens human like persona and their (new found) ability to travel in time are all things that frankly disrespects what the series established.

It sure looks good, especially the animations in space and the interior of the Enterprise. They also really made an extraordinary effort with the make-up and costumes. The music and sound effects are also of high quality.

However, it's neither convincing, captivating nor, in the end, very entertaining.

1,5 Stars.
Peter G.
Wed, Jun 5, 2019, 11:47am (UTC -5)
Good review, Sleeper Agent. I more or less agree with all of your criticisms, although the film did do one thing correctly, which was to try to be iconic in certain ways in which it somewhat succeeded. Generations aimed low and achieved it, feeling like a mediocre episode at the best of times, and at its worst being overblown in a manner not justified by the premise. FC at least has the right sense of scope and stakes for a Trek film, even though IMO it barely feels like Star Trek and even begins to feel like an Aliens clone in some scenes.

Incidentally the biggest strike I have against it is the soundtrack, which is probably the worst of the franchise to me.
Carmen
Wed, Nov 27, 2019, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
I liked the episode very much, but always felt cheated that Minister Marasta didn’t get cameos in future episodes. It would have been great to glimpse her months later in Ten Forward - chatting happily with new friends, or earnestly studying warp drive technology.

There are two other characters I always wanted to see In recurring cameos: the shapeshifting alien kid who was invited onto the Enterprise after holding Riker hostage, and the orphaned boy whom Worf adopted in a Klingon ritual.
Carmen
Wed, Nov 27, 2019, 8:31pm (UTC -5)
Sorry, my mistake. I meant to comment on a ST:TNG episode. I think it has the same name?
Triniray
Sat, Apr 4, 2020, 3:57am (UTC -5)
I am oh so late to this party but I'm well underway in my marathon of TNG (complete), DS9 (on S3), Voyager (S1) and the 1st two TNG movies having just completed First Contact.

I absolutely loved it, especially after being a little let down by Generations' treatment of Kirk's demise and the 'cameos' of the core support cast. The writers seemed to have taken note and given each of the latter mentioned a decent piece of the pie.

I am surprised no one commended the following visuals/ideas that were well done:

1) The new Federation uniforms were a great standout and the lack of such a new spin on Generations was disappointing but made up for here. They looked sharp!

2) The Enterprise E's sleek modifications definitely made the viewer believe that this ain't no TV series but the Big Leagues. Even the warp effect got an upgrade.

3) Geordie's upgraded, new eyes were a magnificent idea and made me wonder why this was not thought of sooner, but lends itself to the idea of the Federation's technology naturally evolving.

4) Liked the evolution of Worf commanding the Defiant, though he relinquishes his captaincy and falls back into his role a bit too easily after being beamed back on board the Enterprise. Would have been nice to get some more insight into how he was selected and by whom.

5) This was mentioned before but Data's more controlled use of his emotion chip was much welcomed.

6) Glad to see the Borg a formidable force again after the Lore storyline/ involvement in TNG derailed that potency somewhat, leaving their demise to interpretation.

This outing gets a 3.5 from me.
Kyle
Sat, Apr 4, 2020, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
I loved this movie, definitely 3.5, but there are two problems with it can't get past:

1. I really don;t like the Borg Queen, not the actual character but the whole concept. The reason the Borg were so scary at first was that they were a collective hive mind, and they stripped you of your individuality and your very self. Now we see a single person as the leader? If you need one drone to speak for the collective when dealing with individual non-hive races then why did she need Locutus all those years ago? I guess for Picard's knowledge f the Federation and its tactics? Then why not just assimilate him? I think this was the start of the "domestication" of the Borg, which came to fruition in Voyager. Yes the Borg are still great villains and scary but now they are just one more in a long list of bad guys over the years.

2. That was a great scene with Lily and Picard in the ready room and the whole Ahab speech, but that should have been Berverly, not Lily. Picard and Crusher have been friends for years and have lots of professional and personal history together, Beverly knows him better and for longer than anyone else on that ship. Their history and their respect and affection for one another has been a constant throughout TNG. Having Beverly just blindly follow his orders while others are questioning them does the character a real dis-service. If anyone can see Picard going off the rails and call him out on it and stand up to him, it would be Beverly, not some random guest star from the past he just met a few hours ago.
Nolan
Sat, Apr 4, 2020, 8:34pm (UTC -5)
@Triniray,

First Contact was released and takes place chronologically during DS9's 5th season, FYI. You know, for any niggling details thst didn't seem to mesh for you, you at least have the context of the time passage. ;-P
navamske
Sun, Apr 5, 2020, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
In reading the Wikipedia article about First Contact, I noted the following: "Whoopi Goldberg was not asked to return as Guinan." My thinking is that Guinan's presence on the Enterprise-E would have caused a problem with the time-travel aspect of the story, because she already existed in 2063. (Although it’s worth noting that when the Enterprise followed the Borg sphere into the temporal vortex, they didn’t know in what era they were going to end up.) Could the writers/producers have been thinking about this potential problem when they declined to cast Goldberg in the film, or is that giving them too much credit?
Chrome
Mon, Apr 6, 2020, 8:18am (UTC -5)
@navamske

I suspect it has less to do with Timey-Wimey problems and more to do with the nature of the movie. For starters, the Enterprise-E has no 10-Forward, so there's no natural place for Guinan to be on the ship. They could have put her elsewhere but the script would only have time for a few lines from her (the same with Beverly Crusher) so it's not really worth Goldberg's time.

Because she also plays a conciliatory role, a natural assumption is that the Lily character could just be replaced by Guinan. However, Guinan hates the Borg more than Picard so it doesn't really fit to have her talking Picard down. Besides that, the two already had this scene about coming to terms with the Borg while burying old grudges in "I, Borg".

If anything, I think Guinan might have been a great addition to Insurrection. That movie has more breathing room and the nature of time and youth would be pertinent to Guinan's character.
Triniray
Wed, May 6, 2020, 7:08pm (UTC -5)
@Nolan

Appreciate the feedback and context!

Have since also found a viewing-order guide that was helpful (never mind the silly name of the URL):
https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/1566/after-star-trek-the-next-generation-can-i-skip-to-voyager-without-watching-dee
Elliott
Wed, Jun 17, 2020, 4:00pm (UTC -5)
As I said in my review for “Death Wish,” I knew that I was going to have to do extensive TNG rewatches for the Borg as I did for the Q. I forgot at that point that, since I'm going chronologically, I was going to get to “First Contact” before the Voyager hit Borg space. And “First Contact” requires even more backstory rewatch than “Unity.” Luckily for me, many of the stories in this arc are top shelf, so this is going to be fun.

We'll start with the most distant story, “Metamorphosis” from TOS' 2nd season.

The way Cochrane figures into the Trek mythos is rather unique. He is introduced to us in the original series at what amounts to the end of his life. So this tale, written well before the series would blow up into the franchise it is today, must serve as both the character's introduction *and* his apotheosis. Unlike with Kahn, plucking this one-off character from the OS annals presents a real challenge if there's to be any hope of making his arc work. TWoK could develop Kahn in any way it needed to to suit the story without concern for where this left him. “First Contact” is going to have to make use of Cochrane and leave him poised to become the character we meet in TOS. Here, we meet a man who is rather resigned and wistful. The script and direction do a great job of convincing us that this 30-something is really hundreds of years old.

COCHRANE: Believe me, Captain, immortality consists largely of boredom. What's it like out there in the galaxy?
KIRK: We're on a thousand planets and spreading out. We cross fantastic distances and everything's alive, Cochrane. Life everywhere. We estimate there are millions of planets with intelligent life. We haven't begun to map them.

In the Kirk speech to the Companion, he lays out one of the primordial Trekkian values, that people require obstacles, a sincere purpose in order to “continue.” As we already saw, for Kirk, that purpose is the exploration of space. For Cochrane, we learn, his ultimate purpose is companionship. He's incredibly accomplished, famous, and physically immortal, but his life has been lonely. In the end, he asks that Kirk tell no one where he is or what he's doing and he finally gets his private island full of naked women, er, woman-eternal-being-hybrid.

“The Neutral Zone”

This somewhat infamous season 1 finale is foundational to our story and to the canon in two important ways. The first is obvious in that the Enterprise is sent to the Neutral Zone to guard against threats from the Romulans when it's really the Borg who are encroaching into Federation space, a motif that “First Contact” will repeat. The second is that running alongside this action plot is a B story about contemporary humans who are brought out of stasis by Data able to observe, contrast, and comment on the nature of the 24th century. This has the effect of reminding us what it is Picard and co. are defending against, whether it be the Romulans or the yet-unseen Borg.

PICARD: A lot has changed in the past three hundred years. People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things. We've eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. We have grown out of our infancy.
RALPH: You've got it all wrong. It's never been about possessions. It's about power...to control your life, your destiny.
PICARD: That kind of control is an illusion.

Remember that in “Encounter at Farpoint,” Picard told Q that humanity is aware of its past, even if they are “ashamed of it.”

“Q Who”

Q's dialogue identifies the narrative purpose of the Borg as basically the same as the trial had been, to test the human condition, to determine whether human evolution can hold against an enemy that would make the Enterprise's hitherto mortal enemies look as naïve as Sonya Gomez. I already mentioned in the “Death Wish” preamble that “Diplomacy, philosophy and technology are all, well, irrelevant when stacked up against the Borg. In the end, Picard doesn't hesitate in embodying humility, throwing himself upon the mercy of [Q] in order to save his ship...Q believes in attrition as a method of persuasion. [He] will continue to push, to confine and confront humanity until it breaks down and admits that it remains the child, savage race of the past.”

Regarding the Borg themselves, whom we finally meet in person, it's hard to overstate how tremendous the design of the Borg cube is. It echoes the Borg themselves as its shape and form give it the aura of a massive animate corpse in space. It's lack of æsthetics remind one that it is unfeeling technology, yet it moves with deliberate purpose. Star Trek hadn't attempted anything so cerebral and horrifying since The Motion Picture. The drones are pretty effective, too, despite looking like a group of gang-bangers who raided a hardware store. Q says that the Borg aren't interested in the human lifeform, but that, whatever the original intention, must be considered deliberate misdirection (he also said Guinan was and “imp,” and we know that amounted to nothing). Since we eventually find out the Borg are somewhat selective with species they assimilate, we can infer that the Borg at this point are ambivalent about humans and whether or not they might wish to assimilate them.

TROI: We're not dealing with an individual mind. They don't have a single leader. It's the collective minds of all of them...A single leader can make mistakes. It's far less likely in the combined whole.

We will definitely need to revisit this topic.

“The Best of Both Worlds”

Here of course, we confirm that the mysterious force from “The Neutral Zone” had been the Borg all along. While the continuity isn't perfect, we can say, without too much difficulty I think, that the Borg had at least scouted as far as the Neutral Zone, but that Q's interference in S2 made the Federation seem like a more tempting target, having somehow entered the Borg's territory. This led to their plan to assimilate Earth directly (this would explain why they contact Picard by name when the Enterprise engages the invading cube). I don't need to heap extra praise on this beloved story, but between Cliff Bole's deliberate direction and Ron Jones' haunting score, the alien dread from “Q Who” is effectively ramped up into the iconic horror now widely recognised in pop culture.

Guinan is brought back into the story to provide some perspective, not unlike our thawed friends from TNZ. Once again, we are reminded that what Picard and co. are defending isn't just the human beings under threat from this malevolent force but the human condition itself.

GUINAN: We survived. As will humanity survive. As long as there's a handful of you to keep the spirit alive, you will prevail.

Further cementing the Borg's mystique is the dialogue between Picard and the Collective after he's captured. “Strength is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. We wish to improve ourselves. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service ours...Freedom is irrelevant. Self determination is irrelevant...Death is irrelevant.”

One final thing to note is that during the final battle in Part 2, Riker is able to distract Locutus *who has taken “control” of the cube* using his and Shelby's antimatter tricks. So already we have an indication that the Borg's collective consciousness is...complicated. There are circumstances in which the Borg yield to a hierarchy. Every advantage is a double-edged sword. Crusher noted that the interconnectivity of the Borg was their “Achilles heel,” and hierarchical structures have their own weaknesses.

“Family”

One of my favourite scenes from BoBW is the wordless assimilation of Picard aboard the cube, his body outfitted with cybernetics, his skin drained of colour, and a single tear visible in his eye. That combined with the famous final shot of Picard staring blankly out the window of his readyroom seem to be the germ for this unprecedented “part 3” story that devotes itself primarily to the character repercussions to our captain. From a character standpoint, BoBW was mostly a Riker story, so this provides an absolutely essential coda to the epic 2-parter. Picard tells Troi that “the nightmares have ended,” which is of course a lie. But the fact that he chooses to spend time with his estranged brother is telling. What was going through his mind as he lay on that Borg operating table? Whose faces did he see as the tear fell? Well, it might have been René's, the symbol of his family's legacy and reminder of what he sacrificed for his career. And of course, we get the distillation of just how broken he had become:

PICARD: They took everything I was. They used me to kill and to destroy, and I couldn't stop them. I should have been able to stop them! I tried. I tried so hard, but I wasn't strong enough. I wasn't good enough. I should have been able to stop them.

Even when forced to grovel to Q, Picard never showed any sign that his spirit had been broken. He realised the pragmatic need to admit his mistake, but he still felt confident in his mission and himself. In the wake of his assimilation, he truly feels like a failure, possessed of Impostor Syndrome. How can he be the hero Captain Picard when he is responsible (in his mind) for so much evil?

“The Drumhead”

While there's a brief mention of the Borg incident during Picard's famous interrogation at the hands of Admiral Patriot Act, I include this episode in summary because it is the first indication we have that there are sociopolitical consequences to the invasion. Satie's ability to get so far in her paranoid overreach is largely due to an unspoken consensus that the Federation's evident vulnerability *justifies* a shift away from core Federation values.

SATIE: My big brothers and I would wrangle [a debate question] around, from one side and the other. Father would referee, and he kept a stopwatch on us so we'd have to learn brevity. But he wouldn't let us leave until he thought we'd completely explored the issue...Father loved it when I nailed one of them with some subtle point of logic.

This is a very telling line, because it reveals the kind of amoral thinking that pushes one down the slippery slope. Not that I, obviously, oppose intellectual debate, but when it's more about winning the argument than discovering the truth or upholding the good, well, we've lost our way.

PICARD: She, or someone like her, will always be with us, waiting for the right climate in which to flourish, spreading fear in the name of righteousness. Vigilance...that is the price we have to continually pay.

“I Borg”

TNG's fifth season is an odd one for me. It contains some of my favourite episodes of all time, yet it is less cohesive or consistent than the 3rd and 4th seasons. The show definitely found itself searching for a stable identity, having finally achieved success that equalled the original series. As such, tales like “Ensign Ro” and “The First Duty” show signs of poking around the Trek ethos in a way DS9 would make its hallmark the next year. “I Borg” is perhaps the best example of the series wrestling with its identity with regards to Federation morality. Our principal viewpoint characters from the Borg arc, Picard and Guinan, are given the opportunity to test their assumptions and weigh their trauma against their better judgement.

One detail I love is how at first, Beverly is insisting on caring for and rescuing the drone that will become known as Hugh, and Picard, while not dismissive of her perspective, still believes she is being naïve (c.f. “The High Ground”). It's only when Worf says “kill it now. Make it appear it died in the crash,” that Picard seems to realise the callousness of his position (oh god, am I'm condoning Klingon blood-thirst? Yeah, better beam up the Borg). Then when Picard sees the drone for the first time, visibly reminded of his trauma—and of his failure—it dawns on him to use the drone as a weapon. Here is Picard's opportunity to make up for his perceived failure. If he can destroy the Borg, using one of them as they used him, then it would all at least have had a purpose. Note that right before this scene Picard insists to Troi that he's completely recovered from his experience in a way that absolutely guarantees he has not recovered from his experience. His actions are being informed by his trauma. Now of course, Picard is no fool. There is a logical justification for this plan, their de facto state of war. But this is logic divorced from ethics, motivated by fear and anger.

LAFORGE: Part of what we do is to learn more about other species.
BORG: We assimilate species. Then we know everything about them...is that not easier?
LAFORGE: Maybe it is. It's just not what we do.

We—the Federation—don't take the easier path. That's been the unspoken truth since “Hide and Q.”

Running alongside all this, we get more details about the Borg culture, their designation system, the voices of the collective in their mind, their pronoun preferences, etc. Moreover, the conversations between Hugh and the cast reveal the *political* nature of Borg. While it was easy to dismiss their validity as a people because of the artificiality of their collective intelligence, to say nothing of the aforementioned horror that this sentient artificiality arouses in us, it becomes evident that the Borg propagandise, they sloganeer. Why do they *tell* you that resistance is futile? Of what relevance to a person or people about to be assimilated is such a warning? It creates a reputation, it creates a mystique. Hearing that collective voice speak those words instils fear. Fear is a political tool. Someone or something within the collective understands this.

Finally, at Guinan's urging, Picard does his damnedest to prove to himself that the Borg cannot be deprogrammed, that their propagandisation is immutable, but Hugh resists; “I will not assist you.”

PICARD: I think I deliberately avoided speaking with the Borg because I didn't want anything to get in the way of our plan. But now that I have, he seems to be a fully realised individual...To use him in this manner, we'd be no better than the enemy that we seek to destroy.

“Emissary”

It's been...over nine years since I reviewed “Emissary” on this site. Oh god. I've softened on Sisko over the seasons, but seeing this jerkbag from the pilot sends me right back to those heady throes. Anyway, the teaser is still the best part of the episode in my opinion. Looking back on it now, I was perhaps a little harsh on the Sisko/Picard scenes. Sisko is still an immature ass, but I can at least partially excuse Picard's timorousness considering the guilt he's still hauling around with him...partially. I still don't buy for a second that he'd allow Sisko to openly disrespect him (twice) like this and offer nothing in rebuttal.

(Sidenote: skipping through the episode, I watched the wormhole Sisko/Prophet scenes back to back and it's clear to me now how much a disservice the editing choices did to this story when I first reviewed it. There are some great moments in here, totally sabotaged by the incomprehensible choice to cut back and forth between them and the mundane space station go bye bye plot. Having gotten well used to DS9 by now, I would probably up my overall score to 2.5 stars. I might revise all of my scores for the first season before I close out the series).

“Descent”

“Descent” isn't so much bad as un-good. It introduces a few elements to the franchise that would have been better left in the writers' room; the emotion chip (technically introduced earlier, but still a generally bad idea), a directionless Lore, and Admiral Fuck Your Conscience Necheyev. She always seems to be the voice of unhinged paranoid psychopathy in the admiralty. And considering some of the admirals we've met, that's saying something. See “The Search II” for more. The Borg themselves are certainly different from their earlier appearances, but this change is pretty much totally isolated from their development as a culture or a threat. The Borg Lore has “liberated” from the Collective are little more than punks who happen to have cybernetic implants. They're cyberpunks.

For the purposes of this write-up, the important bits of this episode relate primarily to connecting Data to the Borg via the temptation of emotions. There is an irony in the fully mechanical Lore unleashing the emotional potential of his little cyborg army. And there's...an effort to show Data struggling with the temptation Lore offers him. But it never really sinks in or feels sincere. Data's actions don't appear to stem from actually experiencing new emotions, but from a manipulation of his ethics; it's not really a temptation, it's basically mind-control. In that way it's not unlike “Warlord”--we do get some insights into Data's character (although really, the fact that he wants to feel feelings is something we knew since at least “The Naked Now”), but the pretence that Lore is a kind of devil on Data's shoulders doesn't work as intended.

“Generations”

The best scene in the film is still Picard weeping over the loss of his nephew. This would seem to close the door on the thread from “Family,” leaving Picard with little besides his career and his command to look forward to. In lieu of any further interesting character beats, Patrick Stewart's influence behind the scenes leads the writers to continue the “Starship Mine” angle and turn Picard into an action hero. Which fucking sucks. And the emotion chip is fused into Data's skull. Which fucking sucks.

Anyway, Kirk is dead, the Enterprise D is dead, René is dead. Onward!

Credits : ****, 1%

Jerry Goldsmith is back, baby! “The Best of Both Worlds” is probably the last time chronologically a Star Trek work was blessed with a truly great score, and so this lush romantic theme, echoing his work for Voyager, but with a slightly more masculine bent, is a reassuring sign. The sequence is incredibly simple, with the title cards emerging from a mist, while the horns glide along cantabile. Psychologically, this puts us in a Trek frame of mind; these actors play the heroes of our dreams, and our dream is a future that looks like Star Trek.

Teaser : ****, 1%

The dream is suddenly revealed to be a nightmare, specifically, Picard's nightmare from his time as Locutus. I told you he was lying to Troi! The tracking shot and use of various distortional lenses and disorienting cuts showcase how much more of a cinematic vision Frakes has compared to David Carson. Picard awakens (twice, repeating that little trick from “Projections”) and receives a message from Admiral Hayes. We see that Starfleet has upgraded the uniforms *again.* This change is reminiscent of the change between TOS and the films, especially TWoK. The uniforms are again heavier, more consistent. But to my eye, the effect is actually the opposite. Rather than emphasising naval militarism, as the red wool uniforms did, the grey-band jumpsuits maintain a focus on department as well as an outer-space sleekness. I like them. Hayes tells Picard what he already knew. The Borg are back. Again.

Scene 1 : ***, 3.75%

Picard gives us the captain's log introduction proper while the Enterprise E is slowly revealed in a beauty shot. The senior staff gather in the conference room for Picard's briefing. There is no chief of security because...anyway, once again, the Enterprise is being sent to patrol the Neutral Zone to keep an eye out for Romulan ne'er-do-wells, while the Borg scoop up Federation colonies. A few other production details: Spiner's skin has gotten shinier, Burton's visor has been upgraded to ocular implants, McFadden's hair has been horribly dyed, and Sirtis has given up all efforts to speak with Troi's accent. Those chairs look comfy, though. The film is playing fast and loose with spacial geography, getting dangerously close to Star Wars territory, as the Enterprise is less than four hours from Earth, but will make it all the way to TNZ and back within the span of the a few hours. The thematic significance of the callback overshadows the plot holes, but, it's not an invisible contrivance. The crew are surprised by Starfleet's orders considering the brand new Enterprise is the most advanced ship in the fleet, but Picard reminds them they have their orders.

Scene 2 : **.5, 3.75%

While the Enterprise patrols, Picard listens to “Faust” in his quarters, Berlioz' booming score failing to drown out the devil's whispers in the captain's mind. Picard is staring out the window of his readyroom again, always a sign of psychological distress. Riker pops in to deliver a report on their findings, a fat lot of nothing.

RIKER: Captain, why are we out here chasing comets?
PICARD: Let's just say that Starfleet has every confidence in the Enterprise and her crew, they're just not sure about her Captain. They believe that a man who was once captured and assimilated by the Borg should not be put in a situation where he would face them again.

Except in, you know, the last Borg story we saw, “Descent.” Whoops. Anyway, the fleet engage the Borg and the staff gather on the bridge to listen to the audio communication of the battle. This is an old trick, but a good one. The Borg live in our imaginations now and this is the last opportunity to heighten our expectations of the threat they pose. The Borg repeat their trademark line of propaganda and then chaos ensues over the comm. It becomes very clear very quickly that Starfleet is about to repeat its failure at Wolf359. It takes Picard only seconds to decide to fuck his orders and warp to Earth. Data says a swear word because that's his job now. This action-movie schlockiness is probably the least impressive part of the TNG films. At least it's brief. Lieutenant Maybe Gay is ordered to set corse and engage.

Scene 3 : **.5, 3.75%

Jerry Goldsmith manages to work in Ron Jones' Borg motif from BoBW, which is a nice touch. We see a cube making its merry way to Earth, closer in fact than its predecessor. The fleet, including the Defiant, is doing its best but to little avail. The Defiant's presence is actually a good reminder that Starfleet has been attempting to upgrade its technology to fight the Borg for about eight years now. The fact that there still is a fleet, despite heavy losses, instead of the infamous graveyard from Wolf359, speaks to the efficacy of these upgrades. While one would expect Sisko in command of the Defiant, avenging himself on the invaders who murdered his wife, he's apparently got more important shit to do and so has sent Worf out with a bunch of no-name extras to defend the Federation. Goldsmith gives Worf a musical cue as well, the Klingon theme from TMP. This is a tad racist, but whatever. Worf is banging his fists against the controls, deciding its time to just crash the Defiant directly into the cube. The Enterprise heroically arrives to protect Worf from his own silliness, rescuing the Defiant and her crew.

Picard hears faint voices of the collective in his mind and is able to identify a key vulnerability in the cube. He assumes command of the fleet (Hayes' ship has been destroyed...although he's somehow not dead as we will see in later stories), and orders the ships to concentrate their fire in a particular spot, causing the cube to blow up. Before the big green boom boom, the cube launches a small sphere from itself which continues its path to Earth. Picard follows, but makes time to welcome Worf to the bridge, who is eager to get more screentime, I mean to help. Oh and Crusher is there. Hi Bev. Okay, you're done, now. Worf is assigned to tactical because...I guess the Enterprise E has no chief of security.

Anyway, the sphere creates a temporal vortex, which even Riker immediately recognises as time travel. No big deal, I guess. This scene is really packed to the gills with so many plot contrivances and “huh?” moments. To the script's credit, because all of this happens so fast and breezily, it doesn't bog the story down. We bulldoze our way through the plot holes to get to the real story. Obviously, if the Borg can travel through time with seemingly no effort, this should cause a host of paradoxes for Star Trek, but don't think about that, look at the shiny ball!

With the Enterprise caught in the sphere's “temporal wake,” they observe that the Earth has been completely transformed before their eyes.

PICARD: They must have done it in the past. ...They went back and assimilated Earth. ...Changed history.
CRUSHER: Then if they changed history why are we still here?
DATA: The temporal wake must somehow have protected us from the changes in the time-line.

Bev...who gave you another line? Bulldoze bulldoze bulldoze...Picard decides to follow the sphere through the hole in time, and scene.

Scene 4 : ***, 3.75%

The next thing we see is a group of very (American) sad people at a large encampment. One of these sad sacks is a tall drunk played by Trek vet James Cromwell. His companion is a much more sober, if equally depressed woman played by Alfre Woodard.

LILY: You're gonna regret this tomorrow.
COCHRANE: Well, what I think you should have learned about me by now is that I don't have regrets...Come on, Lily, one more round.
LILY: Z, you've had enough. I'm not going up in that thing with a drunken pilot.
COCHRANE: But I sure as hell's not going up there sober.

Their banter is cut short by an aerial bombardment which starts levelling the camp. Lily's first instinct is to get to “the Phoenix,” but 'Z' can't be bothered at the moment. As the Enterprise emerges from the vortex, we see the bombardment is being carried out by the Borg sphere. Data identifies the year.

DATA: We're in the mid twenty-first century. From the radioactive isotopes in the atmosphere I would estimate we have arrived approximately ten years after the Third World War.
RIKER: Makes sense. Most of the major cities have been destroyed. There are few governments left. Six hundred million dead. No resistance.

So much to look FORWARD to in 2020! The Enterprise has (conveniently) lost its shields, but not its weapons. It easily destroys the sphere with quantum torpedoes. Having dealt with that, Picard and co. piece it all together.

CRUSHER: Then the missile complex must be the one where Zefram Cochrane is building his warp ship.
PICARD: That's what they came here to do. Stop First Contact.

If there's one thing you can believe after watching “Metamorphosis,” it's that Zephram Cochrane is from Montana. Realising they still have work to do, Picard assembles an away team to survey the damage on the surface, leaving Riker in command. This tracks with the original design of the script, putting Picard on Earth to interact with Cochrane while Riker and Worf fight the Borg on the ship. More later.

Scene 5 : ***.5, 3.75%

Data, Crusher, Picard and others beam down and immediately uncover the launch site for the Phoenix, humanity's first warp-capable ship. The flight crew is dead, the site disheveled...but the ship is intact at least. Lily is around, armed with a machine gun and opens fire on Picard and Data as they examine the Phoenix. Data subdues her by being bulletproof now and she collapses from radiation poisoning. Crusher takes the unconscious Lily back to the Enterprise while Picard has Riker bring down search parties to scour the area for Cochrane. This whole movie seems like a redo of “Descent,” doesn't it? Geordi and his engineers are also summoned to the surface to work on the Phoenix. Before he leaves, he notes something is up with the environmental controls. The Enterprise is getting a little muggy.

As dawn touches Montanta, Data and Picard touch the Phoenix.

PICARD: Isn't it amazing? This ship used to be a nuclear missile.
DATA: It is an historical irony that Doctor Cochrane would use an instrument of mass-destruction to inaugurate an era of peace...Sir, does tactile contact alter your perception of the Phoenix?
PICARD: Oh, yes. For humans, touch can connect you to an object in a very personal way. It makes it seem more real.

After the action-movie stuff, this scene effectively gets us back into Trek territory. Data is getting a little human lesson, one that is simultaneously familiar and novel, and without relying on the lazy crutch of the emotion chip. Picard is reminding us of his archaeological roots. And we are reminded that, despite all the destruction we've been witnessing, the future is supposed to be about peace. It is taken for granted that Cochrane “inaugurated” this new era, self-consciously. And Troi makes a little joke implying that this lesson in tactile meaning has sexual overtones to it (“Would you three like to be alone?”). A very tidy and effective scene.

Scene 6 : **.5, 3.75%

In Engineering, the backup team is discovering that this humidity problem harbingers something much more serious. Two bit parts are taken out in horror movie fashion. Their pained screams are accompanied by that slithering Borg noise, and sure enough Picard can hear them in his head again. He calls Worf for an update, and decides that he and Data will return to the ship, completing the scrip switcharoo to put the top-billed actors into the action plot.

Crusher and her staff finish treating Lily but are greeted by ominous banging at the door. The doors aren't just opening automatically because drama. Picard and Data arrive on the bridge for an update. The captain has deck 16 sealed off, having fully pieced together that the Borg have begun assimilating the Enterprise. It's implied that this was their ultimate plan, launch a cube, send a sphere back in time, assimilate the Enterprise and then Earth. Once again, this is fucking stupid, but the plot wisely bulldozes along and focuses on other things. Like the fact that the communication system is now down, with Picard unable to hail Riker on the surface. They see that the Borg are rerouting ship controls to Engineering, and so Picard has Data repeat his trick from “Brothers” (no not rubbing his tummy and whistling, the other trick) and lock out the main computer with a complex security encryption.

Scene 7 : **.5, 3.75%

With doom knocking on the sickbay door, Crusher revives Lily to get her to join her staff in escaping through the Jeffries Tubes. To provide a distraction, Bev gets to do her big thing for the movie and relinquish the stage to Robert Picardo and his EMH cameo. Picardo is his hilarious self, and apparently succeeds at distracting the Borg long enough for the team to escape.

CRUSHER: Twenty Borg are about to break through that door. We need time to get out of here. Create a diversion.
EMH: This isn't part of my programme. I'm a doctor, not a doorstop.
CRUSHER: Well do a dance. Tell a story. I don't care. Just give us a few seconds.

The Doctor, dance? Talk? Pshh. You might as well ask him to sing.

Lily for her part says fuck this noise and ditches Crusher and her staff in the Jeffries Tube.

Accompanied by a snare drum, Picard, Worf and Data are being all badass or whatever, devising a ridiculous action plan to defeat the Borg. They're going to melt the flesh off their bodies by puncturing some coolant tanks that Starfleet conveniently installed *right* next to the warp core. Good thing lawsuits are obsolete in the 24th century. The not stupid part of the scene comes from this single line:

PICARD: One other thing...You may encounter Enterprise crewmembers who've already been assimilated. Don't hesitate to fire. Believe me you'll be doing them a favour.

Picard is admitting here to strong suicidal feels during...and perhaps after his assimilation. That certainly tracks with what we saw in “Family.” It's understandable, but it's also troubling. As in “I Borg,” Picard is driven towards an amoral pragmatism via the residual emotional trauma of his own experience. Militarily, yes Picard's edict to shoot first ask questions later may be justified in this emergency, but the supposition that his crewmen would *prefer* death to rescue or even continued existence as drones is a presumption informed entirely by his own guilt. Moreover, he's propagandising just like the Borg do, giving his people license to potentially betray their own consciences. How did the Borg put it?

“Freedom is irrelevant. Self determination is irrelevant...Death is irrelevant.”

In adopting this policy, Picard is enforcing the Borg's cultural framework.

“We'd be no better than the enemy that we seek to destroy.”

You said it, Jean-Luc.

Scene 8 : ***.5, 3.75%

Meanwhile, Troi is drunk. Riker finds her and Cochrane at the bottom of several bottles of backwoods moonshine and great northern Tequila. Cochrane is a fan of jukeboxes and 1960s rock, which is a cute homage to the era in which his character was first created. He has given up on the Phoenix and drinking away his...I wouldn't call it sorrows so much as general ennui. How very 2020 of him.

TROI: Will, I think we have to tell him the truth.
RIKER: If we tell the truth the timeline...
TROI: Timeline! This is no time to argue about time. We don't have the time! ...What was I saying?

Overall, this is probably the best Troi material in all the TNG movies. She's a funny drunk and Sirtis is a funny lady. The scene efficiently conveys to us the general premise here, that Cochrane is nothing like the legend his fame would suggest. I suppose it would be like finding out that Christopher Columbus was a racist piece of shit. Oh wait...okay, more like finding out that MLK was a sexist and a homophobe. Troubling. Complicated. But not likely definitive.

Scene 9 : ***, 3.75%

Back on the Enterprise, Picard and co. are making their way down darkly-lit corridors to Engineering. Encountering a partially assimilated hall, Data finds himself feeling fear once again. Luckily for all of us, he's able to simply deactivate the emotion chip these days. Along the way, Worf runs into Beverly who informs him (and reminds us) that Lily is crawling around the ship somewhere. Beverly...who gave you a LINE?

Finally, we see the updated Borg who have swapped their sex dungeon by way of Ace Hardware gear for some nifty, movie-quality prostheses. “First Contact” actually establishes that the Borg assimilation process is twofold. Before the horrifying dismemberment begins, the Borg take your mind. The Collective consciousness is forced upon its victims via the injection of what we will later learn are nanoprobes into the bloodstream. This accentuates the zombi/vampire horror angle to the Borg as we see a number of crewmembers partially assimilated, as Picard had warned.

Picard and co.'s meddling finally causes the drones to start attacking. They can be held off for the moment with phasers, but that quickly gives way to Worf beating them with his gun and Data using his superior strength to protect Picard. This lasts only a few moments as the crew find themselves overwhelmed and Data captured. So Picard retreats, but not before he phasers one of his men to death, one who's been nanoprobed and is begging for his captain's help. Yikes.

But his problems aren't over when he flees into the Jeffries Tube. He's lucky enough to run into Lily, who steals his phaser and uses it to force him to show her a way out of this place.

Scene 10 : ****, 3.75%

Data finds himself strapped to an assimilation table right in the middle of Engineering, surrounded by drones. He notices them attempting to break his encryption and informs them they will fail. Ah, but then he hears a voice from the shadows. A *sexy lady voice*...

BORG QUEEN (OC): Brave words. I've heard them before from thousands of species across thousands of worlds since long before you were created. But now, they are all Borg.
DATA: I am unlike any lifeform you have encountered before. The codes stored in my neural net cannot be forcibly removed.
BORG QUEEN (OC): You are an imperfect being created by an imperfect being. Finding your weaknesses is only a matter of time.

And with that, the Borg begin delicately drilling into the side of Data's skull. Sounds like a good idea.

Meanwhile, Riker has decided to break the timeline and get a slightly less drunk Cochrane up to speed on what's really going on here. Geordi proves the point by getting the Enterprise in the sights of Cochrane's telescope.

COCHRANE: So, what is it you want me to do?
RIKER: Simple. Conduct your warp flight tomorrow morning just as you planned...tomorrow morning when [aliens] detect the warp signature from your ship and realise that humans have discovered how to travel faster than light, they decide to alter their course and make first contact with Earth, right here..It is one of the pivotal moments in human history, Doctor. You get to make first contact with an alien race, and after you do, everything begins to change.
LAFORGE: Your theories on warp drive allow fleets of starships to be built and mankind to start exploring the Galaxy.
TROI: It unites humanity in a way no one ever thought possible when they realise they're not alone in the universe. Poverty, disease, war. They'll all be gone within the next fifty years.

This is a tremendous scene for many reasons.

1.It affirms the Trek ethos in a concise way that both recapitulates what we know from the series (echoing similar speeches in TNZ and “Time's Arrow”), and introduces the notion of an evolved humanity to an audience that may not be Trek specific. That's not something you see in many so-called action movies.
2.For the first time, it *ascribes* human social evolution to a series of tangible events. Humans didn't just decide to forgo money and war, it happened as a direct result of realising their isolation in the Universe, and that illusions of control Picard talked about in TNZ simply weren't true.
3.It deliberately includes all of humankind in its assessment, not just a privileged few left on Earth (looking at you Maquis asshats). Humanity is given the freedom, finally, to pursue a higher purpose unencumbered by concerns over wealth and power.

Without going too far on a tangent, this is what series like DS9 and “Picard” are missing in their more cynical takes on the franchise. It would be reasonable to question whether this evolved status would sustain itself over time, but there has to be a specific event that explains the change. I know some would argue that BoBW *is* that event, but that's not really what we saw. The first Borg invasion woke the Federation from its complacency about how hostile the galaxy could be. That is fair. But it in no way disrupted those systems that eliminated hunger, want, or the need for possessions. And events like the Maquis crisis and later the Romulan refugee crisis depend completely upon a material deficit that is not explicable in the Star Trek universe.

It is this understanding of the human condition that elevates what is otherwise a fun, but not exactly cerebral action film about fighting zombie bad guys. Riker and co. understand what they're fighting for, just as Guinan reminded us in BoBW. It isn't just humans, it's the human spirit. And that human spirit isn't some vague platitude, it is a specific set of ideals tied to an historical event in which the crew realise they are lucky to participate. Cochrane says it plainly, “And you people, you're all astronauts, ... on some kind of star trek?” Astronauts, not soldiers. On a journey. Seemingly inspired, he agrees to give it a go.

Scene 11 : ***.5, 3.75%

We see another couple of minutes of Enterprise crew getting Borged to death before Worf and Lieutenant Only Gay If You Don't Write Angry Letters discuss the possible reasons the Borg have stopped their rampage at deck 11. Picard meanwhile is trying to explain himself to Lily. The two have an somewhat surprising chemistry. Picard is an intellectual trying to be an action hero and Lily is an engineer trying to be a soldier. Although Patrick Stewart got his continued wish to swash-buckle with the Borg, the script deftly makes this out-of-character behaviour part of the fabric of the story. Lily being out of her depth helps to accentuate this dynamic, and Woodard is so incredibly human in her portrayal that our sympathy remains with her even as she keeps her phaser turned on Picard. Jerry Goldsmith's instincts pay dividends here as the First Contact theme gently plays while the two tentatively hold hands and peer out a space door at the Earth below. The isn't THE First Contact, and yet it very much is. Lily is touching the future she has helped to shape, without realising it, in the same way Picard and Data touched the Phoenix (“For humans, touch can connect you to an object in a very personal way. It makes it seem more real.”).

Scene 12 : ***.5, 3.75%

While this touching is going on, the Borg are getting horny with Data. Horny and enigmatic.

DATA: Who are you?
BORG QUEEN (OC): I am the Borg.
DATA: That is a contradiction. The Borg have a collective consciousness. There are no individuals.
BORG QUEEN: I am the beginning, the end, the one who is many. I am the Borg.

Remember what I mentioned in BoBW. The Borg's collective consciousness is complicated. Like any pragmatic power, some of what we are led to believe is true only insofar as it serves the political needs of the moment. There are moments when operating under a hierarchy, a queen and her drones or a Locutus and his cube, is more advantageous that a pure collective will. Eventually in “Scorpion” and later in “Survival Instinct,” we will see that the Borg make a habit of designating leaders when the moment demands it. But that's not part of the propaganda. Such minutia doesn't fit on a bumper sticker.

The queen is finally assembled in an impressive composite shot while she introduces herself as “the Borg.” She probes him, noting her intimate awareness of his character and motivations. Again, this is politics, but a different flavour than the Borg tend to use on organic species. The irony is that Data can't be plugged into the Collective the way a human can be, so he must be assimilated with words. And, of course, with touch. She activates the emotion chip (proving what a bad idea it was to keep the damned thing), then reveals that she has grafted human skin onto his arm. She blows on and he has a little Data-gasm.

BORG QUEEN: Was that good for you?

These things are a matter of taste, but for me the tongue in cheek here is just classy enough to get a sincere chuckle out of the exchange. Alice Krige plays the role sexually but there is something refreshingly subversive about the power play. And let's be real, the Borg have always come across as incredibly kinky, so this was inevitable.

Scene 13 : ***, 3.75%

Picard and Lily are still making their way through the ship. He has been filling her in on more details about the 24th century, repeating his lines from TNZ.

PICARD: The economics of the future are somewhat different. ...You see, money doesn't exist in the twenty-fourth century.
LILY: No money! That means you don't get paid.
PICARD: The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. ...We work to better ourselves...and the rest of humanity.

He doesn't condescend to her the way he did to Ralph Elon Gates Bezos, but his assessment of his present is unambiguous. Whatever else may have changed since BoBW, money is simply not a thing in the 24th century. Which means...the Maquis can all fuck themselves.

On the production side, I have to say the Enterprise E seems to be the most inefficiently-designed ship we've seen so far and that's including a starship which apparently housed dolphins. There are just endless corridors filled with empty bulkheads and rail guards, not to mention rooms with tiny doors that go into space for no reason. I like this movie, but someone should have put a little more effort into all of this.

The pair finally run into a Borgified section and walk through a sea of drones, who ignore them per their idiom. But Picard bores of this and so shoots a panel to get their attention. Actually he's trying to lure a couple of them into the holodeck. He plays a programme called “The Big Goodbye” (I see what you did there) and gets himself and Lily dolled up as Dixon Hill and a 1940s gal...er, somehow.

Scene 14 : ***.5, 3.75%

The Borg break in to what is supposed to be the Café des Artistes in the 1940s. Ethan Philips is manning the bar, decidedly less furry and paedophilic than we're used to seeing him. The not-Neelix hologram is manhandled by the drones until Picard realises he's started the wrong chapter. He fast forwards and suddenly the room is filled with happy dancing couples into which Picard and Lily blend. Ruby makes a cameo (she was his secretary I think. I actually didn't check), and it's all very cute (“dump the brunette.” Yeah that's what a gal in the 40s would say about Hill's black girlfriend). Picard's actual plan is to get ahold of an holographic machine gun which, with the safeties off, will manage to do what his phaser no longer can and kill some Borg.

The café magically clears of patrons which—eh, it's the holodeck—but more importantly, Picard is driven to absolute rages. Yeah, there's a genre within the genre justification for this, a space-Rambo layer that fits the artificial setting, but really this an important window into Picard's psyche. This drone is actually Ensign Lynch, and the the sight of him fully assimilated by the Borg brings up all that flotsam from “Family” once again. Picard has failed Ensign Lynch and dozens of other crewmen by now. He absolutely canNOT fail to stop the Borg now, and that determination is manifesting itself in another loss of emotional control. Lily, observes and comments on all this (as is the motif for these Borg stories) from from her 21st century perch.

Scene 15 : ***, 3.75%

Back on Earth, Cochrane is growing tired of the slack-jawed admiration he's getting from Geordi's team of warp core nerds. Speaking of nerds, Reg Barclay makes an appearance to do a little gushing, driving the good doctor to his favourite pastime, booze!

COCHRANE: Do they have to keep doing this?
LAFORGE: It's just a little hero worship, Doctor.

Geordi goes on to tell Cochrane about the statue they're going to build in his honour and this causes Cochrane to piss himself. Literally, he has to take a piss in the woods. Komedi! But then we see Riker and Geordi racing through the wilderness trying to catch Cochrane, who after peeing on his own shoe and thinking, “I don't really want a statue commemorating this,” ran away from the launch site.

Picard and Lily finally emerge on the bridge where Worf once again scares a primitive woman half to death with his inhuman forehead. Picard accessed a neural processor from the late Ensign Lynch and determined why the Borg stopped on deck 11. They're trying to build a communication beacon on the deflector dish (which can do anything) in order to contact the Borg of this time in the Delta Quadrant and facilitate the assimilation of Earth. Sure. Anyway, Picard, Worf and Lieutenant We're Just Roommates, I Swear suit up in pressure suits to “take a stroll” along the Enterprise hull, their only means to intercept the Borg on the deflector.

Frakes once again makes excellent use of his setting, utilising upside down shots and gorgeous views of the Enterprise and the Earth. The space walk is an excuse for an action scene, but the direction manages once again to elevate this material into something which reminds us, hey, space is pretty cool.

Scene 16 : ***.5, 3.75%

Data is having more skin grafted onto his arm. He tries sublimating his chip-induced fear by engaging in technobabble.

BORG QUEEN (OC): Do you always talk this much?
DATA: Not always, ...but often.

The Queen sings the praises of the Borg's evolution, creating a foil for Picard's proselytisation of Lily on behalf of humanity. This is important, because now we are invited to test the assumptions of both parties. Is Picard as evolved as he claims? Are the Borg? Well, Picard claims that humanity has altered its priorities to *seek after* betterment, to be selfless in the service of a never-ending project that feeds the spirit of all. On the other hand,

DATA: Believing oneself to be perfect is often the sign of a delusional mind.

The Borg do not seek to better themselves, they propagandise and, as Data said earlier, they conquer others, forcing them to be what the Borg culture deems perfect. We have seen Picard be quite sure of himself and his beliefs, unto the point of maybe being a little smug. But he never forced anyone to adopt his values. Eddington would call this insidious, but it is not insidious to model good behaviour and live your values. Insidiousness is deceptive. Picard isn't deceiving Lily about the future she's shaping. He certainly isn't hiding his own flaws from her.

Anyway, Data seizes the opportunity afforded by a moment of lapsed security and escapes the assimilation table, knocking out several drones. But Data's new skin is ripped and suddenly he finds himself humbled in pain.

BORG QUEEN: Look at yourself, standing there cradling the new flesh that I've given you. If it means nothing to you, why protect it?
DATA: I ...I am simply imitating the behaviour of humans.
BORG QUEEN: You're becoming more human all the time. Now you're learning how to lie.
DATA: My programming was not designed to process these sensations.
BORG QUEEN: Then tear the skin from your limbs as you would a defective circuit. ...Go ahead, Data. We won't stop you. ...Do it. Don't be tempted by flesh.

But, in a manner much more convincing and conceivable than we saw in “Descent,” Data is tempted by flesh, leading to the most infamous moment from this part of the film as he and the Queen start making out. Mmmm. Slimy Borg kisses.

Scene 17 : **.5, 3.75%

While Picard and co. scale the hull and Data dusts off Yar's favourite sex toy, Riker and Geordi finally catch up to Cochrane. I mean, they're Starfleet's finest and he's a drunk so naturally this was an epic chase. Cochrane tells them he “doesn't want to be a statue,” and so Will just stuns him.

The space drones are building their device on the deflector and Picard and his team surround them to activate the maglocks and release the whole thing from the hull. This again prompts the question, “who the hell designed this ship?” Picard, Worf and Lieutenant You're Breaking Your Mother's Heart each have to individually activate a release panel like this is a damned video game. The Borg begin to care about this activity, I guess, and one by one they start stepping away from the beacon to stop our heroes. Worf pulls out his mini-Bat'leth, dismembering and killing a drone, but piercing his own suit, Picard does a zero-g dance, and Lieutenant Have You Tried Not Being Gay gets assimilated. Hurray for inclusion! Happy Pride Month! The dish is eventually released, Borghawk killed and Worf gets to spout his trailer-fodder before they make a boom boom.

Scene 18 : ****, 3.75%

Aboard the Phoenix, Cochrane finally confesses his sin to Riker.

COCHRANE: I've heard enough about the great Zefram Cochrane. I don't know who writes your history books or where you get your information from, but you people got some pretty funny ideas about me. You all look at me as if I'm some kind of saint or visionary or something...You wanna know what my vision is? ...Dollar signs! Money! I didn't build this ship to usher in a new era for humanity...I built this ship so that I could retire to some tropical island filled with naked women. That's Zefram Cochrane. That's his vision. This other guy you keep talking about. This historical figure. I never met him. I can't imagine I ever will.

There's an excellent parallel here between Picard and Cochrane. Picard is still trying to live up to an unrealistic expectation for himself, of the captain who never fails in his duty, and Cochrane is trying to avoid having any expectations for himself. Each is a man of his own time, with values which reflect the relative states of his universe. But, unlike the Borg, neither sees himself as perfect. And in the end each will “assimilate” his people, to a certain degree, into a better way of being. But it will be through leading by example, not force or propaganda. Through leadership.

Scene 19 : ****, 3.75%

Speaking of Picard, Worf and the rest of security (still led by no one) report to the captain that their efforts to stave off the Borg are failing. To the shock of the bridge crew, Picard orders them to stand their ground and fight the Borg with their bare hands if they have to. Yeah. Worf steps in and points out the obvious, that they should self-destruct the Enterprise and evacuate the surviving crew. Picard absolutely refuses, becoming increasingly hostile to the point he calls Worf a coward to his face. This is what I mean when I say the script uses Stewart's inane requests to its advantage. Picard has resorted to the most childish and toxic form of bullying possible to deflect any argument against his plan, such as it is. This blatant machismo is so obviously wrong-headed that even the Klingon warrior who tied a severed arm around his leg before gritting his teeth and saying “assimilate this” is telling him he's gone too far.

This is of course the moment when Beverly should relieve Picard of command, but we wouldn't want to overwhelm her character with meaningful action, so instead she sighs deeply. She and the rest begin acquiescing to their orders, so it's up to Lily to set Picard straight.

Since machismo won't work on Lily, Picard tries continuity. He explains his history with the Borg and claims that his experience gives him an insight that justifies his decision, but Lily sees right through it.

LILY: It's so simple. The Borg hurt you, and now you're going to hurt them back.
PICARD: In my century we don't succumb to revenge. We have a more evolved sensibility.
LILY: Bullshit! I saw the look on your face when you shot those Borg on the holodeck. You were almost enjoying it!
PICARD: How dare you!
LILY: Oh, come on, Captain. You're not the first man to get a thrill from murdering someone. I see it all the time.
PICARD: Get out!
LILY: Or what? You'll kill me, like you killed Ensign Lynch?
PICARD: There was no way to save him.
LILY: You didn't even try. Where was your evolved sensibility then?

Several points:

1.Lily isn't exactly correct, but she's close enough. Picard isn't avenging himself on the Borg because they hurt him; lots of people have done that. No, it's that the Borg forced him to betray his own principles to such an extent that he was responsible for killing thousands of his own people. This is the trauma that still haunts his nightmares. He wasn't defeated, he was corrupted.
2.Picard's claim that 24th century humans don't succumb to revenge is a sign of his psychological distress. Unlike the litany he gave Lily earlier, there is absolutely no evidence for this. He's making shit up, and he's hiding behind his own form of sloganeering.
3.Unlike with Miles in “Hard Time,” I don't object to Picard's dishonesty in this case because there is no effort being made in the script to invalidate the claim that humanity has evolved. Picard is using the excuse of humanity's evolution to hide from his own problems and the script is entirely aware of it. It's not subversion, it's a character flaw.
4.Lily's assessment that Picard “enjoyed” murdering Lynch is incorrect. It wasn't pleasure, it was relief.

But the reason Picard didn't try to save Lynch is the same reason he phasered that officer who was begging for help; Picard is imposing his own guilt on the Borg's victims. He's projecting. Deep down, he wishes that someone had killed him before he was assimilated, or filled his chest with bullets when he was Locutus.

The scene culminates with the iconic destruction of the “little ships” and the recitation of Melville. It is, of course, a tour de force performance from Stewart and Woodard, but, as I hope I've made clear, what elevates the violence, the anger and the hatred into the realm of Star Trek is way this resolves. In a typical action movie, this would be the point at which Picard would need to be convinced not to give up, to fight on and believe in something, to be motivated to pick up his gun and charge into battle. Here, Picard finally lets go of his demons and gently sets his phaser rifle down next to his broken ship models. Picard's trauma has been corrupting him every bit as much as the those nanoprobes did.

“We'd be no better than the enemy that we seek to destroy.”

And so, he puts it away; he chooses to be better than his enemy. Picard orders the ship evacuated.

Scene 20 : ***.5, 3.75%

The Phoenix is readied for launch while the Enterprise is prepared for auto-destruct. Crusher gets to give command codes because it's redundant and shouldn't be necessary, as does Worf because...I guess they officially promoted him to security chief at some point whilst fighting space zombies. Anyway, Picard apologises to Worf and, like the Voyager crew had considered, the survivors make plans to blend in to contemporary Earth. Picard bids farewell to his one-year-old bridge, but then he hears Data's voice in his mind along with those familiar Borg whispers.

Cochrane gets his rock and roll playing on the Phoenix' boom box and they launch into orbit. Her nacelles are revealed in all their Trekky beauty and the flight crew, now consisting of Cochrane, Riker and Geordi prepare for the historic jump to warp. The Enterprise launches her escape pods to Earth, bookending this mirrored scene nicely.

Scene 21 : ***, 3.75%

Picard returns to the lower decks and calmly enters the Borgified Engine Room. He eyes the warp core, that thing Cochrane worked so hard to develop, and considers those prominent tanks full of flesh-liquidiser on its sides. The queen enters and greets “Locutus” bitterly. She retcons herself into BoBW, accusing Picard of “forgetting” her like a jilted lover. Unlike her interactions with Data, this aspect to the Queen (not the retcon so much as the character dynamic with Picard) is pretty corny and silly. He sees that Data has been outfitted with more flesh and blood.

PICARD: Let him go. He's not the one you want...It wasn't enough that you assimilate me. I had to give myself freely to the Borg, ...to you...You wanted more than just another Borg drone. You wanted a human being with a mind of his own, who could bridge the gulf between humanity and the Borg. You wanted a counterpart.

This cements what I said about the hitherto nebulous political nature of the Borg. Many lament that the introduction of the Queen and her agenda “neutered” the Borg by removing the advantage Troi spoke of in “Q Who” about the Collective mind being less apt to make mistakes than an individual leader. But that's the whole point. Remember the conversation all the way back in “The Neutral Zone.”

RALPH: It's about power...to control your life, your destiny.
PICARD: That kind of control is an illusion.

In the same way Ralph's Reaganomic economic fetish was illusory, so is the Borg's Collective mind. Whether it's the Invisible Hand or Borg Perfection, we are dealing with propaganda. Yes, the interconnectivity of the drones makes the Borg very powerful. That kind of collective power is something understood as well by ant colonies as by labour unions. But power is always in the service of something or someone. Now we understand that for the Borg, that someone is their Queen.

At any rate, while Picard offers himself to the Queen (knowing that the Enterprise is about to blow them both up—remember, Picard still has a death wish), she is quite happy with her new toy and Data appears, once again, to have succumbed to temptation. He refuses to leave, deactivates the auto-destruct, taunts Picard, releases the encryption and locks torpedoes on the Phoenix. Does any of this make sense? No! But, you know, drama!

Scene 22 : **.5, 3.75%

So the Phoenix does its whole Apollo 13 shtick and Data fires the torpedoes.

BORG QUEEN: Watch your future's end.

Aww thanks, Queeny. I already watched it a couple weeks ago, but I appreciate the suggestion! Anyway, Data was just fucking with her and with us as the torpedoes intentionally miss. He yells “resistance is futile” and breaks the coolant tubes open with his fleshy arm before the Phoenix jumps to warp 1. There's a clichéd struggle involving ropes and tubes and wordless grunting and finally the Queen is destroyed by magic gas, disabling all the other drones on the Enterprise for some reason and the day is saved. Picard vents the gas, snaps the Queen's robot neck in half and has Banter® with Data.

Scene 23 : ***.5, 3.75%

Picard makes his captain's log explaining how the Phoenix' trip has made way for the “rendezvous with history.” Goldsmith's score swells and Cochrane is given the honour to make first contact with the Vulcans, which is an inspired choice for the film. The Vulcans were Star Trek's very first alien culture, after all. There's a metatextual element that just fits neatly into the narrative. Cromwell plays the part of a man waking up to an enlightened future, while stumbling over his own feet (and alien hand gestures), perfectly.

Lily and Picard say their goodbyes, acknowledging the mutual understanding they've developed.

LILY: I envy you. The world you're going to.
PICARD: I envy you. Taking these first steps into a new frontier.

This is what I meant before, the film in no way undermines the Trekkian ethos. Lily is looking forward to a future without money, disease and war. She wasn't jaded by seeing the personal flaws of one man, even if that one man is supposed to be the avatar for his people, because she saw him overcome his demons and live up to his evolved sensibilities in the end. And she's seen her alcoholic friend overcome his own short-sighted, if relatable goals to change the world for the better.

“As long as there's a handful of you to keep the spirit alive, you will prevail.”

They beam up, the Enterprise travels back to the future...eh, just go with it. Everybody pose for a picture and make it so.

Film as Functionary : ****, 11.75%

This film shares a lot of DNA with “Generations.” We've got action schlock, head-scratchy time travel, our leads behaving out of character, and a very convoluted master villain plot. Two things make this film a great if imperfect success while the other remains, in my assessment, a failure.

First is the execution; from the music to the performances, to the set design, to the effects, and most importantly, in the direction, “First Contact” has a cinematic scope and feel from beginning to end without abandoning the ethos that makes this feel like Star Trek (c.f. Abrams 2009). Every scene is excellently paced, masterfully acted and stylish without being pretentious. Considering Frakes only had TV experience up to this point, that's an impressive achievement. Although it would have been nice to give Crusher something significant to do, every other character is well-utilised and gets at least one stand-out scene. The optimistic title plot and often gruesome villain plot complement rather than compete with one another. Thematic connections aside, showing us the sunny Cochrane story helps remind us of the stakes in the Borg story. We're never bogged down in misery nor sugar-rushed with lightheartedness. It's a well-balanced film. Because of this, pretty much all of the script's flaws can be forgiven.

The second, arguably more important ingredient in the film's success is its sense of purpose. TOS was cancelled abruptly and, even if it hadn't been, the nature of the 1960s programme it was didn't spend a lot of time developing its characters. TOS was thematically interesting with memorable characters, but it wasn't until the film franchise began that we really started to see significant changes in characterisation. So the TOS films functioned as necessary character pieces for Kirk and Spock. The individual films have their individual strengths and weaknesses, but all feel like necessary components to completing the story of the Original Series and its characters. TNG, on the other hand, completed itself. “All Good Things...” provided the perfect capstone to the characters and the series' themes and most of its running plots. So, execution aside, “Generations” felt more like an appendix to the series, yet another adventure, as opposed to something which needed to be made. “First Contact” takes the bold approach of being a Star Trek film *about* Star Trek.

“First Contact” shows us Picard at his darkest, confronting his most pernicious demons head-on and nearly
Elliott
Wed, Jun 17, 2020, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
CONTININUED

...failing to measure up to the man we know him to be. His moral decay manifests itself in his revenge-addled machismo, meaning that his character flaw is driving the action pieces in the movie. This is a brilliant way to have your cake and eat it, too. It is fucking hard to sustain a franchise that's supposed to be about peaceful exploration while giving people what they expect from a space adventure film—lasers and explosions. They're never making another TMP, I'm sorry to say, so this approach seems to be the closest we can hope to get. Considering the next two TNG films are going to fail artistically (sorry), the only thing which would have made Picard's journey better here would have been to have him choose to stay behind with Lily. I don't necessarily mean they needed to develop a romantic bond—I actually like that there's no romantic subplot—rather that I think a fitting end for him would be to sit under a tree gazing at the stars the way his René did at the end of “Family.” Lily gets that moment instead, which still works, but I think a little bittersweet closure for our beloved captain would have served him well.

Data's story here, while a little goofy at times, manages to pull off what “Descent” could not, and provide a genuine temptation for him. Data has, in a way, been on a journey to assimilate human culture into himself. While he's grown tremendously, he is still frustrated by being unable to bridge the gap. The emotion chip was a cheap and obvious means to attempt this, but the Borg's ability to fuse man with machine is anything but.

Cochrane's presence was important to underline the difference between evolved humanity and its straw man. “Don't try to be a great man, just be a man and let history make its own judgements.” Put another way, don't try to be a perfect human, just be a human and let social evolution take its course. His growth over the film provides the blueprint for the Roddenberrian human of the 24th Century. In a Star Trek film about Star Trek, that's a critical component.

Finally, the Borg. I don't dismiss those criticisms of the film or especially the Queen for making the Borg less scary. It's certainly true that they will never hold power over the audience again they way they did in “Q Who” or “The Best of Both Worlds.” But that is simply the inevitable end of exploring an alien culture through a Trek lens. Whether friend or foe, the Trek way is to develop mutual understanding. Every Trek alien is not really an alien, but a version of humanity against which we should measure ourselves. The human humans are, in the show's opinion, the best version, but Klingons, Romulans, Changelings, Wormhole Aliens, the Q and even the Borg all represent possible futures and human conditions. Given that, I think expanding upon this political element, this insidious hierarchy within an alleged pure democracy of thought which sloganeers and proselytises just like any other power, works pretty well. The Queen herself is a tad too broad at times (playing bitchy ex-girlfriend to Locutus is rather cheap), but I think holds up in the context of the film.

Final Score : ***.5
Peter G.
Wed, Jun 17, 2020, 7:40pm (UTC -5)
Detailed review, Elliott! Giving backstory to a review certainly helps see where your individual reflections come from.

Too much to comment on, but in particular I'll mention that I think Data's arc is probably the least significant and thought-through here. Moore wanted something engaging and maybe tantalizing, but what he came up with for Data is inexplicable other than "stuff happening". I mean, he wasn't offered humanity in any intelligible sense, was offered 'superior' out layer, I guess you could call it, but fundamentally what she was offering didn't come across as even particularly related to the things about humanity that Data is always intrigued by. It was more like a BDSM funhouse to entice him with...thrill? I couldn't even tell at any moment whether he liked it or not. Or what he supposed to be liking! For all that Moore wanted these scenes to be, the Queen might as well have been a Klingon dominatrix for all the subtlety she showed. And hey, we know that Moore knows Klingons. Maybe this is a "everything looks like a nail (or Klingon)" situation for him. That may even spill over into Picard going in for blood vengeance. When Data says he considered complying for a microsecond or whatever, it got a laugh in the cinema because it shows just how ridiculous the Queen's "temptation" really was, even though it might have been an 'eternity' for an android.

Regarding the Borg:

"Finally, the Borg. I don't dismiss those criticisms of the film or especially the Queen for making the Borg less scary. It's certainly true that they will never hold power over the audience again they way they did in “Q Who” or “The Best of Both Worlds.” But that is simply the inevitable end of exploring an alien culture through a Trek lens. Whether friend or foe, the Trek way is to develop mutual understanding."

I think this statement basically demonstrates why some (such as myself) think this movie initiated the neutering of the Borg. The reason they were scary wasn't because we didn't understand them, it was because we did. There is no "them" to get to know, no beliefs such as we could understand them, no culture, only a directive for which any objection or comment is meaningless to them. It's not that they consider their objective to be more important than you; they don't consider it at all. There is no one to dialogue with because there is "no one" there, only some vague collective, but no "one". That's why they used Locutus, just so the humans could speak to something tangible, because without him there was nothing but a network. No person in sight. So what made them scary was there was nothing to learn about them other than how to defeat their technology; by their nature they were not aliens, because they had no individuals. No one to speak with, only a wall of repetition about their directive. It's like (loosely speaking) trying to have a "dialogue" with a raging mob. All you will get is a repetition of their directive, and if you're in the way you'll get torn apart; not because they don't like you, but because you were insignificant. You matter no more to them than a rock in the way, so "negotiation is irrelevant." That's what VOY got wrong to the extent that it gave them even more of a 'personality' than FC did; VOY portrayed it as being relevant, but only if you have something they want. But that misses the point: in BoBW it was truly "irrelevant", as in, not a consideration that *could* exist for them. And yeah, that's scary, knowing that you have nothing in common with them as a 'race.'

Some here have even posited that they aren't a race, but just a group of prisoners, and that may not be far off. That actually makes I, Borg have more impact, since killing all the prisoners is surely questionable. But what they are not, is supremacists who just think they're better than you. They have no opinion of themselves at all. Or at least, not until this film. It truly did alter them and make them into just mean aliens with gadgets.
Elliott
Wed, Jun 17, 2020, 9:19pm (UTC -5)
Thank you for the feedback, Peter. I know it's a long one.

I agree that Data's was probably the thinnest of the arcs in the film, but I still found the temptation more convincing than in "Descent." Emotions are the the vehicle in both instances, but Data actually has a choice in this case instead of having his ethics turned off by tech tech. I find that much more compelling.

Regarding the Borg--and I don't usually say this--I think it's okay to agree to disagree on this point. Unless you're going to give the Borg "personality," as you put it, there is simply no reason to bring them back into the franchise after BoBW. "I Borg" already set the stage for the Queen and for Seven of Nine. For my money, what you lose in this new interpretation is made up for with what you gain. I am very impressed with stories that dissect seemingly impenetrable cultures. What attracts me about Star Trek is the idea that with enough time and effort, we can eventually understand one another. I think Voyager's takes on the Borg worked at least through "Dark Frontier." The later stories were kind of a mess. That's one reason I had such high hopes for "Picard." It seemed like a great opportunity to rectify some of that wasted time. Anyway, as I say, I understand why not everyone feels this way, but if they're going to keep using the Borg, I think this approach is more or less the right way to go.
William B
Thu, Jun 18, 2020, 11:46am (UTC -5)
@Elliott, Great review! My feelings about the film are similar to yours, I think.

The advantage of the scene-by-scene analysis is how you can really pick up on and explore the themes winding through the film, especially the role touch plays. I hadn't ever connected that scene where Picard and Data touch the Phoenix. The sex joke of Troi saying "Do you three want to be alone?" actually foreshadows the, er, climax with the Queen.

Anyway I agree with Peter's point that the Queen as dominatrix is a bit silly, but I think that it does work in concert with the movie's themes. It's about (First) Contact, and I think the schema is that trauma isolates a person, and then the options are to continue perpetuating that trauma through destruction, to be subsumed into a false oneness where individual consent is completely obliterated, or to enter into an imperfect but clear-eyed world of closeness and understanding with others. Cochrane wants to be [on an] island (John Donne) with beautiful women, which *is* where he ends up, as you point out, but Metamorphosis goes to some lengths to argue that it's a meaningful relationship of equals (heteronormative because this is a chick gas cloud), and only once he's "retired" from his responsibility to others.

The Borg's two-stage assimilation then seems to be the way cults (down to college hazing) work in general: first traumatize to break the person, and then offer them intimacy and togetherness. And I think structurally then the episode plays out this on several levels, with Picard's PTSD and unresolved trauma, and the eventual reveal that the Borg wanted something else from him other than total obliteration, in one stream, the Last Temptation of Data, and the attempt to destroy humanity's peaceful, non-cultish first contact with the Vulcans and the eventual foundation of the non-totalitarian Federation (and Riker and Geordi's efforts to patch things up) on the other.

The movie is a bit of a paradox. On the one hand, it is, as you say, *about* Star Trek, and is inseparable from the core of what Trek is about, and is really closely intertwined with Trek history in general and character arcs from TNG in particular. On the other, in order to make a blockbuster movie about those traits, it simplifies and streamlines character stories. I think both the film's defenders and detractors are correct. You allude to the story as having its cake and eating it too with the action elements, and it does, where the violence represents destruction. The kinky sex in the movie is a metaphor for the offer of obliteration of self. Picard being an action hero and Data being a sex toy are both weird fantasy plays on the wrong way to respond to trauma, and the movie *literally time travels to before the formation of the Federation* in order to make it seem like these are the only options available. In that sense it owes something to All Our Yesterdays too, where Spock's psychology is apparently influenced by the raging collective untamed id of Vulcans of the time.

Anyway, as I alluded to in a previous comment, I think that the Picard/Data/Queen climax is actually pretty effective, but, like, in a weird, kind of dumb, mythic way, character arcs filtered through psychoanalysis, action movie language and porn without plot fanfic. Picard needing to go rescue Data himself after having agreed to blow up the ship is kind of dumb literally -- action hero nonsense -- but is also psychologically about him recognizing that he has to go down and deal with his own trauma, to rescue Data from the fate he himself suffered, which is another way of saying he needs to rescue the part of himself that was lost as Locutus all those years ago. And it's only then that he finds out the missing piece of the puzzle, which is that the Queen wanted him as a counterpart, a willing companion, and that failing that the Borg destroyed his will and subsumed him entirely. That actually does relieve Picard's guilt because it suggests that even though he was eventually taken over by the Borg, he did manage to resist giving himself over willingly, and that Data appears to give into temptation only to turn around represents Picard's "iron" will fighting back and demonstrating its imperfect humanity.

I actually do like the Data material in the movie, SORT OF, and I think it actually does need Descent to work properly. I agree with many of the problems of Data's emotion chip, but my argument in defense of the concept has been that it's been a part of the character since Datalore, albeit indirectly. Lore said outright in Datalore that Soong chose to create a "less perfect" android ("Believing oneself to be perfect is often the sign of a delusional mind") and while we know Lore is partly wrong, he is also correct that Soong chose to *not* give Data emotions, because he didn't know how to do so without making Data evil, rather than that it was not possible for him to do so. From there we can either believe that Data is fine without emotions or that he needs to eventually find a way to integrate emotions without going Lore. Now Datalore might have been a bad idea, but overall I'm inclined to think that the failure of Lore and that Data is apparently stuck longing for something that will probably corrupt him if he achieves it in the wrong way adds a welcome tragic dimension to the character. That Brothers suggests that Soong has found a way he *thinks* to allow Data to experience emotions without going full psycho means that it really has to be addressed somehow. I think that Data's "First Contact" by itself and Descent by itself don't work, but put together it more or less works as a story: Data is completely unable to deal with emotions when first given to him, but that experience and his subsequent period in which he temporarily gives up on his future humanity (first by almost blowing the chip up, then by self-sacrificially choosing not to tell Juliana she's an android, which is an implicit recognition that the android/human gap is impossible to bridge) is what allows him to approach wholeness anew in Generations and then finally resist temptation while whole here. The sex as metaphor for intimacy, of touch, of actually being partly human rather than always looking in, is what makes the scenes basically work for me in spite of the silliness. That Tasha is implicitly referenced (in Data's "eight years" bit) reminds us of not just The Naked Now but The Measure of a Man and thus how deeply *lonely* Data's being trapped outside of a fleshy body is. I don't really think Data was *that* tempted, but I do believe that giving up his flesh (and having it be burned off in a gnarly way) really did hurt, and him passing through that pleasure and pain to be able to genuinely feel in a human way without betraying his ethics or android-ness feels like a good place to stop his arc and hint at the positive future for him in All Good Things. In any case Data's actually going through the process of becoming the counterpart Picard was able to resist being, and maintaining enough selfhood to be able to turn on the Queen at the right moment, completes a kind of loop for Picard and gives him closure.

Picard breaking the Queen's...spinal cord thing?...which is now disconnected from the rest of her, really does seem to be a kind of breaking of an umbilical cord. Again there's lots of weird imagery. I just watched Dead Ringers and I do wonder if the writers and Frakes had Cronenberg on mind (I could see Moore being attracted to the psychosexual elements and Braga to the body horror). Your pointing out the importance of Family and Picard's loss of his brother and Rene in Generations as a kind of background point out what it actually means for Picard to have to revisit his "family" of the Borg Collective, with the Queen as perverse devouring mother/lover (ew), the most frightening and enticing form of the family he'll never have. His rage is guilt -- for having been subsumed, but also for maybe wanting to be a part of something where he's less alone. That he forms an adult (and platonic) relationship with Lily in the film is quite wonderful.

It's not quite a standout moment but I do like Beverly recommending the EMH dance and hope it was an intentional "Dancing Doctor" reference. I like that Gates was given a brief moment to be funny even if it's mostly to hand off to a cameo.

Overall I'd give First Contact 3 stars myself, though it's one of those situations where it's kind of a 2 and kind of a 4. I'm pretty into it and I think it's silly; it reframes cerebral character arcs as pulpy splash pages. I think most of the bad and good things people say about the film are true.
Jason R.
Thu, Jun 18, 2020, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
Fantastic review Elliot. But I am with others in thinking the Borg Queen's temptation of Data was botched. There was one episode in all of Trek that seriously attempted to address the allure of collective consciousness (rather than portray it as unmitigated horror) and that was Voyager's Unity.
Peter G.
Thu, Jun 18, 2020, 7:14pm (UTC -5)
"There was one episode in all of Trek that seriously attempted to address the allure of collective consciousness (rather than portray it as unmitigated horror) and that was Voyager's Unity."

Yep. The Borg are not a collective consciousness in any sense of unity (that is, bringing people together). What the Borg do is destroy your individuality, not connect it to others. Picard didn't come out marveling at what it was like to share thoughts with others; he was effectively submerged and nearly destroyed, and replaced essentially by a machine running his body. In VOY's Unity we got a little look at a *real* collective consciousness, i.e. where all members are actually conscious. I wouldn't have minded some exploration in Trek of how the one might lead to the other, but as I see it these are separate technological phenomena.
William B
Sun, Jun 21, 2020, 7:15pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott, re Cochrane, you mention the booze and rock music as signifiers of the time he was created and also alluded to MLK as a real life figure whose heroic legacy is...complicated by aspects of his real life history. It occurs to me that Cochrane wanting cash to enable his skirt-chasing, but brought Vulcans to the human race, seems like he's maybe an analogue of Roddenberry. He even hits on a Troi, though it's Deanna rather than Lwaxana.
Matthew Burns
Mon, Aug 17, 2020, 3:48pm (UTC -5)
As a movie First Contact is most definitely the most 'popcorn' and most 'accessible' for general audiences unfamiliar with the TNG Star Trek universe/canon. The script writers, and probably Frakes who directed it, wasted no time with getting the movie moving at speed to the real meat of the story. Generations for example effectively meanders for over half it's running length before anything really happens, namely the saucer crash and Picard getting down on the planet and getting involved with the Nexus.
I like Generations but I like it probably more because its TNG on the big screen with better lit sets, than because it's actually got a really good story, I'll admit. The story takes too long to get going and is not in fact executed that well.

First Contact finds a much healthier balance between great visuals and engaging and well executed story, and its paced very well indeed, and credit goes to Frakes who really hits his own creative peak IMO here, as a director.
Speaking of Frakes, he also directed the sequel, Insurrection, and it's a film that gets a fair amount of stick from the fans, which is unfair. I think with a better script he'd have been able to pull off another big winner. TNG movie era was a little let down mainly by underwhelming and convoluted scripts/plots. Even First Contact didn't escape that downfall, in that the Borg essentially are portrayed in a way that betrays their original concept from the TV show. But the execution and overall story in that case overshadows the problems.
Trent
Sun, Sep 6, 2020, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
Most call this film "well balanced" and "well paced", but I've always thought the opposite. I've always felt the entire structure of the film to be ill-conceived, and in need of radical reshuffling and streamlining.

For example the film opens with a double nightmare sequence (cribbed from the opening of "Aliens") designed to brief newbies on the Borg and Picard's history. But it's a hacky opening - imagine opening "Silence of the Lambs" with Hannibal Lectre jumping out of a cupboard and eating Clarice - the Borg best revealed incrementally and Picard's history best explained later via simple dialogue.

The Enterprise then sets off for the Romulan Neutral Zone, before doubling back to Earth for a big space battle, which, insofar as films tend to mirror the sexual experience (anticipation, excitement, climax!), unbalances the whole picture; the film front-loads all its cool stuff, introduces the "horrors" of the Borg too early, and when it does finally climax, it does so with silly fisticuffs, Picard in a muscle-vest as he punches a lady.

The effectiveness of the film's horror/action sequences on the Enterprise are also constantly sabotaged by the lighthearted stuff on Earth. Picard's battling cyborgs in space while Riker grooves to rock and roll, Geordi gets chummy with Cochrane and Troi drinks booze. Tonally the film constantly undercuts its tension.

In a film struggling to juggle its huge ensemble - early dialogue often doesn't flow naturally, lines shoe-horned into Crusher or Worf's mouths for the sake of giving the large TNG cast something to do -- you then have the added work of squeezing in Lilly, Zefram Cochrane, time travel, the Vulcans and yet another Data Subplot. It's all sluggish and unwieldy. It's like the film wants to simultaneously be "Wrath of Khan" (Revenge!), "Voyage Home" (funny culture clash shenanigans!), "All Good Things" (high concept time travel!) and "Data's Day", and it suffers for this greediness.

I'd have removed both Cochrane and Lily entirely and given their dialogue to TNG cast-members. You can tell the same tale without them, and they don't logically fit in with the Borg tale anyway; the Borg can achieve their goals by going back to countless other points in time in Earth's history, or doing so without going back in time at all. And if they are time traveling, there's no need to time jump from within Federation space.

I would also remove the Queen. It's a generic idea, and if you want to have the Collective speak, just give its dialogue to any hijacked character.

This film also continues the mistake of trying to use Data as the TOS movies used Spock. In the TNG movies Picard is constantly paired with Data, and the duo are constantly sacrificing themselves or putting themselves at risk for each other. But IMO Picard is better paired with Riker. Picard's a 19th century British Navy archetype, and Riker his loyal sidekick. Like the "Master and Commander" series, the TNG movies should have stressed their Aubrey–Maturin-esque relationship, and tonally adopted a style akin to something like "Hunt for Red October". More nautical, more intellectual and more chess-like. After all, the Borg have assimilated countless species and acquired centuries worth of tactics. They should be constantly twenty steps ahead, and Picard's outsmarting of them should involve him being even smarter (not a mere "Focus fire on these coordinates!").

The ensemble nature of TNG is also ill-suited for films like "First Contact". The TOS movies worked because they focused on a strong trio (Kirk, Spock, Bones, all funny), and used the rest of the crew as lovable caricatures. Scotty, Sulu, Uhura and Pavel don't do much, but because they're almost cartoonishly drawn, have such clean and clear characteristics, they come across as likeable. But TNG's cast are less distinct. Geordi and Crusher are pretty flat, Worf's a bit of a bore, and Data and Picard share too many similar traits, lacking sparks when paired. Riker's the only one with enough charisma to bounce off of (and Troi if written well and allowed to be sassy).

If I had to reshape this film, I'd have opened with Federation listening posts detecting an object or two heading for our solar system. Initially too fast and far away to identify, Starfleet intelligence eventually tags them as Borg cubes. Federation ships around Earth then scramble to intercept.

Picard and the gang are on Earth, chilling, and through concise scenes we get a glimpse of what the Future Federation is all about, and why it's worth preserving. Then our heroes are informed of the inbound Borg. The Enterprise - in orbit and being refitted - is hastily ordered to intercept. The admiralty ask Riker to take command, because Picard's a wildcard when it comes to the Borg. Riker protests, but Picard urges him to obey. Riker nevertheless invites Picard to come along as a supernumerary or observer (to hell with orders!).

As the Enterprise scrambles to intercept the Borg before they reach the solar system, Federation vessels further out are effortlessly decimated by the intruders. Entire ships are swatted aside likes flies by the Borg or rudely and dismissively ignored altogether. Amidst this wreckage Riker prepares to engage the Borg, takes a pounding, and so quickly turns over command to Picard. Picard manages to take out a cube, but the Enterprise is crippled and the remaining Borg continue on to Earth.

As the Enterprise licks her wounds, floating amidst the wreckage of other ships, she begins beaming aboard survivors. One survivor has some kind of tiny Borg implant. From this lowly implant, the Borg infects a medical tricorder, the computers in the infirmary, and slowly proceeds to isolate sections of the Enterprise, assimilate the crew and systematically take over the ship. What would happen if Earth itself were similarly assimilated?

Structure the rest of the film as a race against time to both get back to Earth and hold off the Enterprise from being assimilated. Maybe - if you want to be faithful to the themes of "First Contact" in this hypothetical film - you have Picard go a bit too gung ho, and Riker having to talk some sense back into him (ala Lilly). If you must have time-travel, have the Borg attack a Federation Temporal Mechanics Research Lab on Earth or something, the Collective hoping to prevent the Federation access to time-streams.

But I've always thought time-travel was too big an issue to be casually used by Trek, so would have omitted all time travel from this film entirely. And as the Borg's best trait is their utter indifference to races they deem beneath them, I wouldn't use them as conventional villains. Treat them as unstoppable and utterly dismissive of all other life (in this film, they get beaten in the first battle and spend the rest of the film hiding out below decks like losers).

Have them approach Earth, maybe knock out a spacedock's lights with some kind of technobabble EMP, enter orbit, and then black out the entire planet, rendering most technology dead. Then have the Borg begin casually beaming down drones into Starfleet HQ and other key areas. Earth panics and thinks they're being assimilated, but the Borg mostly ignore everyone and break into a special datacenter. Maybe they're looking for information on ex-Borgs, rescued and rehabilitated by Starfleet. Maybe one such ex-Borg lives on Earth. Maybe the Borg go to her.

Instead of a violent climax, just put Picard, this ex Borg and a Borg drone in a house together. The Borg just want new information to better themselves. They want to know why XB's are happy to leave the collective, why so many races are now resisting them, how the Federation assimilates and why Federation assimilation works. Really juxtapose the two cultures. Why doesn't Locutus come back to the hive? Why does Picard reject the Collective for the Federation? Maybe the Borg have already calculated that they will be extinct in 8979.3434 years, all their territory ceded to the Federation, and so are trying to prevent their own demise.

Picard gives a big righteous speech, the Borg ignore him, they get their data and beam it to the cube in orbit and so hopefully to the collective, but Riker destroys the cube in time.

Maybe end with a coda with sinister New Borgs, having learned from the Federation how to be slick colonizers, using their new techniques to assimilate new races. Maybe they turn up on a backwater planet looking like the Federation, promising bread and roses.

Either way, I don't think this film does anything interesting with the Borg. The Borg are utterly defanged here, and the Vulcan/Cochrane stuff belongs in a different, more jovial movie.

Personally, I find myself rewatching "Insurrection" more than "First Contact". It flows better, it's structured better, its faster and punchier, and while "First Contact" has no awful scenes, compared to "Insurrection" which has many, the latter just seems more interesting.
Peter G.
Sun, Sep 6, 2020, 11:48pm (UTC -5)
You know, Trent, I never read fan suggested stories here, but after your intro I did read this one. Yes, that would have been a superior film. Actually the ending would almost require a sequel...but why not? II-IV were essentially a trilogy, and formed the basic core of Trek films. The disparate and random stories in the TNG films did no one any favors. Plus - best bonus of all - having the Borg become like the Federation gives Eddington lots more ammo to throw at Sisko in the eventual 2037 DS9 film featuring everyone in retirement on a beach, and Sisko drinking Prophet Colatas.

Kidding aside, the most sinister thing they could do with the Borg is to transform them in a dark way. Keeping them the same would never recapture BoBW, and changing them in the way they did was illogical and made them boring. Have them *really* assimilate something for a change, and have them become worse in some manner, more insidious. Maybe disguise themselves as you say, when resistance is no longer futile. Maybe Disguise drones as normal people and we can get NuNuBSG with Cylon Borgs. Or maybe the worst change of all would be for them to actually become friendly, and to 'evolve' enough as cybernetic organisms to make cybernetic implants look really appealing to Federation members. Maybe it starts with implants to cure injuries or birth abnormalities. Gerodi's new mechanical eyes could be a good segue into bionic improvements across the board. Soon the idea of neural interfaces become appealing, a la Barclay in The Nth Degree. Before you know it people are clamoring to be hooked into the network (into to social media horrors) and the ultimate in assimilation has happened: people are demanding to become like the Borg, voluntarily. Now that would be scary.

Agreed that the time travel plot does no one any favors, let alone the Borg resorting to time travel because they...cannot defeat the Federation in battle? I mean what the hell was Moore smoking when he wrote that? The way the film was written it's like the actual premise is a con and just a cheap way to get some action scenes and ST: IV hijinx going. There is no actual reason the Borg or Enterprise crew are there, and frankly nothing we learn from Cochrane's exploits anyhow or even about First Contact.

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